Latest brutal assualt part of a disturbing trend threatening the safety & security of drivers, passengers
Media Contact: David Roscow, 202-537-1645 x 254 or William H. Nix Sr., 216-299-1186
Cleveland, OH – In reaction to another vicious assault on an GCRTA bus driver, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) calls for felony laws to prosecute attackers, the immediate installation of protective bus shields, and a serious police detachment to randomly patrol buses to prevent this disturbing and growing trend.
For the numerous attacks in last two months, an GCRTA bus driver was attacked on the job. Yesterday afternoon on Cleveland’s eastside driver Greg Vranekovic was punched repeatedly in the face by a passenger on his route. He was taken to the hospital for his injuries. The attacker is still on loose.
“These vicious and unprovoked assaults on bus operators should outrage every member of our community,” said William H. Nix Sr., president of ATU Local 268, representing transit workers at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA). “This is not only about the safety and security of bus drivers, but of passengers and other drivers on the road.”
The union believes a first step toward combating these attacks should be the prosecution of these individuals to the fullest extent of the law. Anything less sends a clear signal that the protection of bus riders and drivers is not a high priority to authorities.
“We need serious felony laws to match the violent nature of these crimes. We demand bus driver shields be installed immediately and random police patrols on buses to deter these attacks,” Nix continued.
Attacks on transit workers across North America are on the rise. A bus driver gets assaulted every three days in the U.S. In Canada, 40 percent of bus operators are assaulted on duty during the course of their careers. New York has seen a 30 percent increase this year while attacks on Philadelphia transit workers doubled from 2010 to 2011.
“Assaults like this have become far more frequent since the beginning of the recession,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley. “People stuck in poverty will take out their frustrations on the bus driver who is seen as a rolling representative of the government, demanding increasing taxes in the form of fares for a ride.”
The ATU and Transport Workers Union have formed a committee that has been working to deal with the longstanding issue of assaults on drivers. Last spring the committee held the first-ever national conference on operator assaults in Brooklyn, NY.
“Recently a Los Angeles bus driver was shot and killed on the job, another in New Jersey was stabbed seven times. Unreported, lower profile offenses such as spitting and verbal abuse are becoming part of the job,” Hanley continued. “This epidemic of violence against transit workers must be stopped now.”
About the ATU
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 264 local unions spread across 44 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.