Safety concerns drive transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers, light…

Jeanne O’Neill has been assaulted, groped and spat on in her 17 years as a Metro Transit bus driver.

David Stiggers has fielded verbal abuse and dying threats whereas driving his bus routes.

Within the Twin Cities, assaults on operators have grown extra widespread over the previous 5 years, with many incidents stemming from conflicts as minor as fare disputes. Operator-security considerations lately turned a serious sticking level in a contract dispute between unionized staff and the Metropolitan Council, which runs the Metro Transit system. Drivers and transit personnel are threatening a Tremendous Bowl strike until protecting measures are taken.

“(Assaults are) a continuing stress that transit operators everywhere in the nation face,” stated Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated ­Transit Union Native 1005, which approved the strike.

Final yr, 162 assaults have been reported among the many greater than 1,500 Metro Transit operators. The incidents vary from critical ­felony-degree assaults to disorderly conduct and threats.

The 2016 assaults symbolize an almost 17 % bounce from 2013. Early numbers on 2017 assaults recommend they will maintain tempo with final yr’s complete.

Metro Transit, which operates its personal police pressure, stated the security of its staff and passengers stays a precedence. From de-escalation and self-protection coaching to public consciousness campaigns, the company says it takes quite a few steps to guard its practice and bus operators.

Operators, although, say their security considerations have gone largely unaddressed, creating a piece surroundings the place tense confrontations are commonplace.

“I would like us all to be protected. I would like us to have the ability to go residence at night time and never have a black eye or be spit on,” Hanson stated.

Transit officers keep there is no uniform strategy to defending all drivers from hurt.

A standard prevalence

Hanson suffered 5 bulging discs in her neck from her mild-rail assault in 2015. She required three to 4 months of rehabilitation earlier than returning to work.

“Each time that I pulled in (to the storage after the assault), I requested police as a result of there was no method I used to be going to undergo that once more,” she stated.

Hanson transitioned from mild-rail to bus operation final yr. She nonetheless encounters aggressive passengers from time to time.

Stiggers first began driving Metro Transit buses eleven years in the past. He shortly discovered which routes have been desired and prevented by operators.

“You find yourself watching individuals get beat up, you find yourself watching individuals get stubborn out,” he stated. “Typically you get some…

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