Media Center

May 24

ATU: FTA throws transit workers under the bus

Statement by John A. Costa, International President of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), regarding the Federal Transit Administration’s announcement that it will not issue a rulemaking on transit operator assaults:

“As we mourn for Thomas Dunn, the Tampa bus operator who this week had his throat slashed, using his last breath to steer his vehicle to safety before he bled to death in the drivers’ seat, we are shocked by the timing of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) notice abandoning their responsibility to stop assaults against transit workers in today’s Federal Register.

“In 2015, ATU led an effort to secure language in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, directing FTA to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on protecting public transportation operators from the risk of assault. After waiting for four long years, during which  countless bus operators have been stabbed, shot, punched, pepper sprayed, scratched, doused with spit, hot coffee and cups of urine, pummeled with canes, pipes, frozen chickens and cans of sterno, and had their hair set on fire, FTA today actually stated that current regulation on assaults “…makes issuing a separate NPRM on this subject unnecessary.”

“Unnecessary? One has to wonder why the Department of Transportation (DOT), which of course has jurisdiction to enforce safety regulations on our roads, rails, waterways, and in our skies, is treating bus drivers differently than workers in other modes. Since 9/11, commercial pilots have been secured through fortified flight decks. If just a handful of sea captains were being attacked on a regular basis, there is a 100% chance that DOT would take action to protect them. Yet, thousands of transit workers get brutally attacked every year while the industry sits on its hands, ignoring the problem, and now DOT says that further action is not needed?

“Following each attack, the transit agencies say that safety is their number one priority. But transit passengers are being put at risk as vehicles get hijacked. Our members keep dying. What other group of workers has to endure this? We appreciate the prayers, but now is the time for action.       

“ATU urges Congress to pass the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act (H.R. 1139/S. 436), bipartisan legislation that would require transit agencies to accurately compile the number of assaults on transit workers and then work with front line employees and their unions to come up with solutions.

“Solutions have been available for years. While there is no ‘one size fits all quick fix here, ‘Not One More’ life can be lost. DOT’s action today is incredibly insulting, insensitive, and tragic.”