The Harsh Reality Of Being A Bus Driver

In the previous entry I discussed the MTA’s potential partnership with the NYPD to crack down on fare evaders on NYC buses. In that entry I had made mention of how drivers are in a no win situation in confronting fare evaders from a policy standpoint but more so from a safety one. New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue wrote a piece on fare evasion but more so on actual data of bus driver assaults. Here is his report:

They are the toughest bus routes in the city, the ones where riders beat the fare – and sometimes the driver.

Drivers working 11 routes, most in Brooklyn and the Bronx, have been assaulted 103 times between January 2007 and July, an NYC Transit listing of the most attack-prone routes shows.

Many of those routes are also on another roster – the one for the most fare-beating.

“Most involve drivers getting punched, kicked, beaten,” said Joseph Smith, senior vice president of buses. “Some have had their eye sockets broken, teeth broken, you name it.”

The agency has a broad definition of assault, ranging from being spat on to being punched or seriously injured with a weapon. Most of the 103 reported assaults are not minor, Smith said, adding that many start with a “fare dispute.”

Because of the risk, drivers are instructed to politely remind riders of the fare, but not to challenge them, officials said. Still, even that can lead to trouble with the most volatile of riders, bus managers said.

Click here for the full report.

I agree with TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint who feels the laws needed to be strengthened due to court interpretations. As one commenter (mosaic) said in response to the article:

it’s a dang shame how the drivers are treated. They’re doing their jobs transporting us around the city and don’t deserve to be assaulted, cursed, or anything.

It is a shame that bus drivers have to deal with this nonsense every single day. No disrespect to the many T/O’s I know personally or overall but being a bus driver is harder due to the public interaction they face. They don’t have a metal door to block them from the small percentage of savages or rude people who ride the buses. To think that some felt they had no right to want more money for their job. I invite those who share that belief to be a bus driver for a month or even a week & see if you feel the same way. It is not as easy as some make it out to be.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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