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Bus Drivers Continue to Suffer Attacks

17 May, 2023 Liz Carey

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New York, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – Attacks on bus drivers continued this week, even as union officials have called for better protections.

In New York City, police said they are searching for a man who allegedly attacked an MTA bus driver. The 45-year-old driver was driving in the East Village when he got into an argument with the suspect. The suspect then repeatedly punched him.

The driver was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for his injuries.

In Baton Rouge, police said a passenger caught a woman attacking a black female bus driver on camera.

Police said they were searching for 33-year-old Brittany Banks and her older daughter attacked the bus driver. According to WAFB, the fight happened on April 26.

According to police reports, Banks’ teenage daughter got into a heated argument with the bus driver while the bus was on its way to Bradley Street. The bus driver told the girl to call her mother to escort her off the bus because of her disruptive behavior. When the bus arrived at Bradley Street, Banks was there.

At the stop, the driver tried to explain to Banks about her daughter’s behavior, but the incident turned physical.

Video allegedly shows Banks hitting the driver with a closed fist, and her daughter eventually joining in, also punching the victim.

The mother and daughter, Carlicia Lewis, were charged with second-degree battery of a school bus driver, and the mother was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A 13-year-old suspect was also arrested and charged for attacking the driver.

The driver was employed by First Student, a Baton Rouge transportation provider. Baton Rouge is experiencing a bus driver shortage, officials said, and attacks like this could further hinder attracting bus drivers to work in the area.

Mayor Pro Tem Lamont Cole has called for stronger protections for bus drivers.
“The incident we saw on that video not only put the bus driver in jeopardy of being harmed and hurt because she was the one attacked, but the children on the bus were also in danger as a result of that behavior,” Cole told online magazine Madame Noir. Cole is also the chief academic officer for CSAL INC Charter Schools. “What if the bus driver decided to get off the bus, leave, and leave the children alone because she was being attacked? And someone gets on the bus and does something extremely harmful to those children? We have to consider how the decisions we make dictate what happens next.”

Cole called on local and state officials to do something to protect bus drivers.

In Detroit, a bus driver was attacked on Saturday, May 6 after he tried to wake up a sleeping passenger.

Chief Ricky Brown with the Detroit Transit Police said its procedure for drivers to check their buses at the end of each line and wake up any sleeping passengers to tell them they need to get off the bus. In this case, when the driver woke up the passenger, he was attacked.

Officials said the passenger punched the driver repeatedly, breaking his nose, damaging his left eye socket and leaving him bloodied. The driver was taken to St. John’s Hospital and treated.

Brown said despite beefed up protections, including see-through dividers, officers riding buses and video cameras on the buses, drivers still face attacks.

“We’re dealing with a society now that any little thing sets people off,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, now our public service folks and first responders have to have an extra tool in our belt in terms of conflict resolution.”

Brown said the victim is on paid leave as they recover from their wounds.

On Thursday, police released video of the assault and are asking anyone with any information about the attacker seen in the video, to come forward and help with the investigation.

It’s just the latest attack on bus drivers in Detroit. Officials said another driver was attacked recently when a passenger pulled a knife on a driver and stabbed him. In that incident, police were able to make an arrest, officials said.

The attacks follow two years of attacks on bus drivers and other transit workers. Across the country, transit unions have called for increased protections of bus drivers and other transit employees.

As of March, more than 30 states, including Massachusetts and Louisiana, have passed legislation increasing the penalties for attacking public transit workers. According to Governing.com, Massachusetts has passed legislation making attacking a transit worker punishable by between 90 days and 22 years in prison, and a $500 to $5,000 fine. In Louisiana, penalties for attacking transit workers is punishable for between 48 hours and 6 months in jail with no parole, and up to a $500 fine.

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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