The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council approved $1.23 million in funding last week to add barriers in buses that will protect drivers from potential threats.
Earlier this year, local headlines were dominated by stories of bus drivers across the Twin Cities area being assaulted by deranged passengers. There were three attacks in just a five week period between April and May, and union representatives say the assaults have reached “epidemic” proportions, according to The Star Tribune.
In a May incident, 26-year-old Sterling Smith was charged with third-degree-assault after a video surfaced on social media of him beating a bus driver while a female passenger laughed. A month later, another driver was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center after suffering minor injuries from two young men who assaulted him.
“Bus operators will have the choice of using the barrier, or putting it in a pinned back position. The barrier was a consensus recommendation from a committee that included bus operators, technicians, Metro Transit police and leadership from ATU [Amalgamated Transit Union] Local 1005,” Metro Transit announced in a press release.
In 2017, Metro Transit reported one felonious assault, 60 gross misdemeanors, 27 misdemeanors, and 96 counts of disorderly conduct on its city buses. In 2018, the numbers were three felonious assaults, 49 gross misdemeanors, 26 misdemeanors, and 111 incidents of disorderly conduct.
“We’re happy because this is a massive step forward for our members,” ATU Local 1005 President Ryan Timlin said.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Minneapolis Metro Bus” by Runner1928 CC3.0.