Attacks on MTA Bus Drivers Prompt Safety Changes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A woman is assaulted driving a bus in the Bronx -- the second incident of its kind in the last three months. (Published Thursday, Sep 15, 2011)

    The MTA is promising to make safety changes after two female bus drivers were attacked in three months.

    Both incidents happened on the BX9 bus near Fordham Plaza. The most recent attack happened late Saturday morning.

    Maria Hogan, 45, said she was punched in the face by a 6-foot-tall passenger who became angry when she announced she would not be able to make a scheduled stop because of construction.

    Days later, she was still visibly shaken by the incident.

    "God tells you to forgive, you know?" she said through tears Wednesday. "And in my heart right now, I can’t forgive something like this."

    In June, another female driver was assaulted when she would not allow a teenage girl to board the bus with her dog.

    In Fordham Wednesday, those waiting for the bus were shocked to hear about the violence.

    "To be on a bus is for us to be safe," said Gwen Nelson of Riverdale. "Now I hear people are attacking drivers -- it's serious, it's crazy."

    The vicious attacks are prompting the bus drivers' union to call for safety improvements. The union says some operators have had knives held to their throats and others have been hit in the head with a bat.

    The MTA has installed protective shields for drivers on five buses as part of a pilot program. The cash-strapped agency said it will install them on 100 more buses in the near future.

    "It's an issue somebody's got to look into," said Matthew Walsh of Inwood. "They either have to put regulations on the bus or some wardens like they do on school buses."

    The MTA said 59 drivers were assaulted from January to August. That's seven more incidents than the same period last year.

    Follow Pei-Sze Cheng on Twitter @PeiSzeCheng4NY