June 24, 2018 02:51 PM
A Metro Transit bus driver, who said he was punched by a passenger in the face, is pushing for more training and safety measures for all operators.
The attack is the latest in a series of bus driver assaults that have occurred over the last several months.
Brian Williams said he was getting ready to begin his route in St. Paul Friday afternoon, when a man boarded the bus and stood in the middle of the doorway.
"The bus driver asked him to step to the side so that people could get on board and instead of acknowledging the driver, he turned around and looked at me," Williams said.
The man then scanned a pass and stepped aside. Williams said the suspect spit on the floor of the bus and shoulder checked him.
"I turned my head to look at him and at that point, he swung around and sucker punched me in the mouth," Williams said.
Williams was taken to the hospital and got five stitches in his upper lip. Saturday, he said he had to go to an urgent care clinic because he was experiencing headaches and dizziness. He said he was diagnosed with a concussion and is off the job for at least a week to heal.
Williams said this isn't the first time he's been assaulted. Earlier in the month, he was spit on.
"98 percent of the people we drive every day are great people," he said. "It's the small percentage that we have issues with and that's really unfortunate."
The driver echoed similar concerns of other Metro Transit operators and the labor union that represents them, saying they need more protection and training. Williams said many of the people who act out are dealing with other crisis in their lives.
"There are many issues that need to be addressed and when I say issues, I mean everything from homeless to drug addiction, to mental illness," Williams said. "We as drivers are not trained to see those issues that people have."
The union representing Metro Transit operators said its members have been pushing for safety solutions, like the installation of transparent barriers on buses and trains that would help separate drivers from passengers. Metro Transit has been testing the barriers out on several bus routes.
The incident is still under investigation, according to Metro Transit police.
A Metro Transit spokesperson said a man is in custody in connection with the incident.
Updated: June 24, 2018 02:51 PM
Created: June 24, 2018 01:13 AM
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