Bus Attack Leads to Call to Better Protect MBTA Drivers

In this file photo, the 39 battles its way to the bus stop.

The president of the MBTA operator’s union is calling for increased efforts on part of police, prosecutors and lawmakers in the wake of a 15-person attack on a bus driver in Dorchester Saturday.

Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589 John Lee said in a statement published on the union’s website March 10 that such attacks deserve immediate attention by state lawmakers.

“The Boston Carmen’s Union ATU Local 589 is relieved and thankful that the Bus Driver, attacked in the early morning hours, was not more seriously injured,” the statement said. “However this assault by a reported mob on an isolated Local 589 member simply doing his job illustrates the need for public safety officials and the legislature to act quickly before a transit worker is killed.”

The Boston Globe reported Sunday that there have been 22 reported cases of MBTA drivers who have been assaulted or threatened in 2013 and 18 cases during the same period in 2012.

Lee calls for new recognition by lawmakers on House Bill 1508/Senate Bill 718 “An Act to Authorize the Arrest for Assault and Battery on a Public Employee,” which would make it possible for police to arrest a suspect without a warrant should there be sufficient probable cause, according to the language of the bill. The bill was referred to the joint committee on the judiciary Jan. 23 by both the house and senate, though there are no hearings immediately scheduled.

“MBTA and RTA workers, male and female, are on the job in the early morning hours and late into the night,” Lee’s post continued. “They are often isolated while working in buses, trolleys and transit stations and are increasing becoming the target of violence. It is well passed time for a crackdown on the thugs that target working women and men on any public transit job.”

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