Media Center

Nov 19

ATU condemns stabbing of Tampa bus driver less than six months after another driver was stabbed to death

Demands better protection for transit workers, Congress to pass Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act

Tampa, FL – In the wake of today’s stabbing of a Tampa bus driver by an angry passenger less than six months after Tampa bus driver Thomas Dunn was stabbed to death by a rider, ATU is demanding Congress pass legislation to provide better protection for bus drivers, riders and the pedestrians.

“This violent attack on one of our bus drivers while doing his job serving the public is tragic and unacceptable,” said ATU International President John Costa. “Transit workers cannot do their job, and passengers cannot travel on public transportation in fear of being attacked and assaulted.”

The angry rider sprayed mace on the bus driver’s face and then proceeded to stab him in the leg. The driver was taken to the hospital for his injuries. The bus did not have a protective bus driver shield which are currently being installed on all buses by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART). The Tampa Police Service were able to catch the suspect.

“This attack comes less than six months after Tampa bus driver Thomas Dunn was tragically stabbed to death on the job,” said Curtis Howard, ATU International Vice President and trustee of ATU Local 1593-Tampa, FL, which represents HART workers and visited the scene of the attack. “These senseless acts of violence on our bus drivers must stop.”

Unfortunately this brutal attack is not an isolated incident. Countless numbers of transit workers are assaulted every year. Most are the result of a fare dispute, but an alarming number happen for no apparent reason.

ATU has been engaged in an unprecedented campaign with transit workers from Toronto, ON, to Oakland, CA, and Jacksonville, FL, to Saskatoon, SK, to demand major safety changes in transit systems across North America.

ATU is calling for passage of the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act (S. 436 / H.R. 1139). This legislation would provide more protection by requiring transit agencies to create risk reduction plans, install physical barriers to protect drivers, and retrofit or replace buses with left-side blind spots. Also, it would require transit agencies to report on all incidents. The bill is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, with more than 180 members of Congress co-sponsoring the bill.

“Our members do difficult work with professionalism each day, yet vicious attacks on them by angry and violent riders continue. No one should have to live in fear that they might die or even get hurt at work,” Costa continued. “It’s time for Congress to pass this critical legislation that will help prevent these tragedies from happening.”