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Call for greater security on buses

A bus driver has called for better security on the buses after being punched repeatedly in the head by a passenger refusing to pay his full fare.

The driver, who wished not to be named, said while this was the first time he had been physically attacked in the nine years he had been driving buses, he said he often had to deal with unruly passengers while his colleagues had also been the victims of verbal and physical abuse.

The transport ministry last week put out a statement saying there were “raised concerns of physical attacks on bus operators within the past two weeks”, after an increase of such attacks.

The driver recalled how on Saturday, August 13 he picked up the attacker on Cavendish Road along with two tourists and headed along the number 3 route to Grotto Bay. He noticed that the man had only given him a zone three ticket yet did not get off the bus when he reached the end of the three zone near Devil's Hole on Harrington Sound Road.

He described the man as black, about 6ft, of slim build, about 150lb, with a tattoo running from his shoulder to his hands and wearing a blue short-sleeved top with black pants. He asked the man where he intended to get off and when he told him Grotto Bay the driver said he would need to pay the rest of his fare. That is when the altercation ensued.

The driver told The Royal Gazette: “He said ‘just go ahead and drive the bus' and that when we got to Grotto Bay he would put in the rest of the money. I said he needed to pay the money now.

“He got angry with me and said ‘you better drive the bus before I come up and punch you in the face'. I said I would not move the bus until he put the money. He had a child — about three or four years old — with him so he put the child down and came up to me and punched me twice in the back of my head and once in my face. The tourist was shouting to him ‘what are you doing?'

“Then the man picked up his child got off the bus and ran off with the child.”

The driver did not go to hospital but took a couple of days off work to recover, saying he had a stiff jaw. He did, however, go straight to Hamilton Police Station to file a report and he is still awaiting a response. The driver said he believed there should be better security for bus drivers given the number of attacks that take place.

He continued: “We always have unruly people on the bus and I try to stop and tell them they have to get off or I will call the police to deal with them but not this bad. I think there needs to be better security for drivers and they really need to punish these people really severely when they get caught. They think they can come on the bus and do what they like and that they don't have to pay but we have tickets, tokens everything in place to allow people to pay the fare. It is not free.”

Transport minister Michael Fahy said: “Whenever there is a verbal threat or physical attack on a bus operator and it is reported to us, we ensure that it is reported to the police to seek their involvement.

“Discussions with the stakeholders will assist in determining what needs to be done further to protect operators and passengers. Cameras have been installed on some of the newer buses and all future buses will have this feature with a ‘panic' button direct to authorities. There have been calls over the years which have been partially addressed with new buses having cameras.

“However, we may explore other methods such as security screens if this is called for. On our newer buses, the 14 series, are equipped with cameras which has helped in ensuring that offenders are prosecuted by law.”

Mr Fahy said in a statement issued last week: “The Department of Public Transportation has reported such behaviour is increasing. Steps will have to be taken to protect bus operators from such attacks. We will prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. I should remind the public that those found guilty could face penalties under the Omnibus (Conduct) Regulations 2012.”

Troubling times: attacks ous drivers are said to be increasing

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Published August 23, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 23, 2016 at 1:55 am)

Call for greater security on buses

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