Washington, D.C. (June 6, 2018) – SMART Transportation Division leaders announced today their support for the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act introduced by Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (D – Calif.) and Congressman John Katko (R — New York) that would enhance the safety of bus drivers nationwide.

Incidents of assaults on bus operators occur daily and threaten the safety of both our members and the riding public. Countless news reports of incidents involving spitting, beatings and stabbings by unruly passengers have left SMART-TD bus drivers as victims of frequent violence.

​A stabbing on a bus in Montebello Calif., is just one example.

“There have been gruesome, inexcusable acts that have been committed on our bus members including shootings, stabbings and beatings, and little has been done about it. We need adequate driver shields and mandatory de-escalation training,” said National Legislative Director John Risch. “I want to thank Representatives Napolitano and Katko for developing and introducing this important piece of legislation. Our pledge is to continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure all bus operators are given the protection they deserve.”

The legislation would require transit agencies to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs by implementing physical barriers to prevent operator assaults, de-escalation training for bus drivers, driver-assisted technology to reduce accidents, and modified bus specifications or retrofits to reduce visibility impairments.

“There is no higher priority than operator safety. On a daily basis, we see reports of drivers getting assaulted and having their lives irreversibly changed because they were behind the controls just doing their jobs,” said Calvin Studivant, SMART TD Bus Department Vice President. “This critical legislation will significantly improve bus driver safety through risk reduction programs and other safety requirements.”

In 2015 SMART TD supported passage of the FAST Act, which required that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issue rules designed to prevent assaults on transit workers, so far FTA has neither released nor implemented these rules. The Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act continues to build on SMART TD’s efforts to protect bus drivers and eliminate operator assaults.

The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry, including bus operators.

Bus Operators employed by Montebello Bus Lines (MBL) are angry and concerned for their safety after a college student was critically injured during an attack, which occurred Monday, April 9, while riding on one of their buses.
Local 1701 Chairperson Cecilia Lopez told the Montebello City Council at a meeting Wednesday, April 11, that members have been concerned for their safety for awhile and in light of Monday’s stabbing, are demanding that the city, who owns the bus system, make improvements to safety.
“People are crazy out there. Please don’t sweep this under the rug,” Lopez said at the meeting. “What does it take to make sure our employees are safe?”
Lopez has suggested that the city place uniformed officers on every bus. The Montebello police department says that they don’t have the manpower to place an officer on every bus, but that some officers can be placed on buses, especially if more complaints are lodged.
Click here to read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

SMART TD Local 1701 represents mechanics and bus operators employed by Montebello Bus Lines.
With a fleet of 66 buses, MBL serves over 8 million passengers a year throughout the communities of Alhambra, Bell Gardens, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Downtown Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, La Mirada, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Rosemead, South Gate and Whittier.

According to a story by The Spokesman-Review, bus operators employed by the Spokane Transit Authority (STA) in Spokane, Wash., have seen an increase of assaults by riders.
According to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1015, which represents the STA operators, there’s been seven incidents since December. Bus operators have reported multiple cases of verbal abuse, physical abuse, spitting and threats.
Click here to read more from The Spokesman-Review.
Over the past couple of years, SMART TD has been trying to help bus operators mitigate assaults by providing training at regional meetings on how to de-escalate conflicts. SMART TD has also been lobbying for stricter laws to protect all bus operators from assault.