The MTA Hosts Regional Meeting to Address Bus Operator Assaults

MTA New York City Transit has made an aggressive push to reduce or eliminate the number of attacks on bus operators.

However, the serious problem of assaults against transit workers is not just an issue here in New York City. In fact, it is a top priority for transit managers around the country. Therefore, MTA Bus Operations recently hosted a workshop with a number of regional bus properties to share across the agencies the numerous perspectives and initiatives underway to mitigate assaults against bus operators.

This "Bus Operator Action Committee" met in a daylong session held in the Bronx on January 20th at the Zerega Avenue Safety and Training Center. Organized and hosted by Wayne Galante, Assistant Chief Officer for MTA Buses Safety & Training, attendees included representatives from New Jersey Transit (NJT), South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

"We met to discuss and share a number of our MTA bus operator assault mitigation and related safety and security program elements," said Galante. "This is a nationwide problem and one of the most effective things we can do is get together on a periodic basis and share notes and innovations."

The session was opened by Darryl Irick, Senior Vice President of Buses for NYC Transit and President of MTA Bus. The security of the MTA's bus operators has been at the top of Irick's agenda since his appointment and he has prioritized the development and installation of shields, cameras and working with NYPD to identify and address trends.

"These sessions are a tremendous opportunity for cross pollination of information and techniques," explained Irick. "We are all dealing with similar problems and it can help us reach solutions more quickly by doing it together."

Although legislation is already in place making it a felony to assault a transit worker while on duty, some still aren't getting the message and assaults continue on both bus and subway workers. Working together with TWU local 100 through the Bus Operator Action Committee, we have developed a series of bus operator protective shields, designed to protect drivers. Already, more that 450 barriers are in place through a combination of retrofit installations on older buses and new installations on factory fresh models.

Bus operators are also instructed in conflict resolution as part of their new hiring training and this component is included in refresher training as well.