Transit Workers on Edge after Attacks from N.Y. to L.A.

17 Jun, 2024 Liz Carey

                               

New York, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – Workers with the Transit Workers Union Local 100 are considering their options after a series of attacks on transit workers in New York City this past week.

The attacks are similar to attacks across the country where passengers assault drivers. Officials urged the public to stop the attacks, saying drivers and workers are not “punching bags.”

On June 7, a Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) bus driver said she was punched in the face in East New York, one of three assaults on transit workers last week.

The driver, who requested her name be withheld because her assailant was still on the loose, said she was driving the B6 bus when a passenger told her he missed his stop.

“A guy gets up and he says, ‘you passed my stop, can you let me off?'” she said during a press conference on June 11. “I said, ‘I cannot let you off,'”

It is policy that drivers cannot stop between bus stops. When the passenger asked again, the driver gave him the same answer.

“Before I finished it, I was getting punched in my face — driving, and I still had to make sure that I don’t crash,” she said. “Then he said to me, ‘B—h, open the door or I’m going to kill you. So I stopped and I opened the door, because I thought about my precious kids that I wanted to get home to.”

According to an MTA incident report, the driver was hit in both of her eyes.

Another bus driver was attacked in East New York on Saturday, June 8, officials said.

Officials said 60-year-old MTA driver Isaac Egharevba was operating a shuttle bus about 11:45 a.m. that morning, when an angry passenger attacked him. NY Transit police said the man, in his 20s, started arguing with the bus driver. When the argument escalated, he attacked the bus driver, stabbing him in the neck with a broken bottle.

Another subway conductor was punched on the job on Monday, June 13 union officials said. They noted an uptick in attacks on bus drivers and subway conductors. Union officials said they are glad the NYPD has increased its presence on the subways, but said the same is needed on buses.

"We've had a rash of assaults on so many of our employees," TWU Local 100 President Richard Davis said. He said there was another attack on a conductor on Tuesday morning before the press conference.

"We are not the public's punching bag. And eventually something's going to happen, and the transit workers are going to march with their feet and I'm going to be right with them," TWU Local 100 Vice President John Paul Patafio said.

While New York state prohibits work stoppages or other actions by public sector workers, the MTA leadership has accused TWU of violating that prohibition before. In February, crews slowed down train service after a conductor was violently stabbed in an attack.

Patafio did not answer the question when asked if he was calling for a strike.

“Let me put it this way,” he said. “If there’s a house that’s burning, people are going to leave the house.”

Similar attacks have happened in other cities.

In Los Angeles, in late May, a bus driver was assaulted by a homeless woman, officials said.

Police said the woman boarded the bus and then got into an argument with the bus driver. The passenger then took the driver’s prescription glasses and scratched the driver on her face. When the woman got off the bus, the driver chased the suspect and got into another physical altercation. The driver was able to get their glasses back, but they were broken.

Officials with the Los Angeles Metro system said the transit agency was “angered” that its “essential” bus drivers were being attacked.

“Our employees deserve a safe workplace and our customers deserve a safe ride, and we are accelerating our work to prevent crime in our system,” Jose Ubaldo of LA Metro said.

And in Nashville, also in late May a bus driver was taken to the hospital after a passenger attacked them with a kitchen knife.

Metro Nashville Police said 30-year-old Dericka Scivally got on a WeGo bus. Witnesses said she was yelling and screaming when she got on the bus.

The 54-year-old driver told Scivally to sit down and be quiet, but their direction angered the woman, officials said. The woman pulled the kitchen knife out and attacked the bus driver. The driver suffered defensive wounds to both of her hands, officials said. Scivally fled from the bus on foot, but was later apprehended by officers and charged with attempted murder.

“We are deeply saddened by today’s Incident,” WeGo said in a statement. “We want to ensure everyone’s safety on public transit and are assisting MNPD with the investigation. Members of the WeGo Safety and Security team are at the hospital with the operator who is reported to be in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.”


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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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