City bus drivers are being reminded to take appropriate measures to ensure their safety upon reports that passenger assaults against them are on the rise.
Sixty-nine bus drivers were physically assaulted in the first nine months of this year compared with 57 in the same time last year, according to the Daily News.
That amounts to about seven attacks per month this year – or an increase of 21 percent over last year.
Many of the reported attacks happened over fare disputes.
The MTA didn’t offer a possible explanation for the increase in reported attacks, but MTA spokesman Charles Season did tell the News drivers are trained to “gently remind” riders to pay their fares.
If the rider fails to oblige – or the driver feels a potentially dangerous confrontation looms – the driver is urged to call police or enforcement agents, not to challenge the rider personally, Season said.
The most violent assault against a driver happened nearly three years ago, when driver Edwin Thomas was stabbed to death over a free-transfer argument while driving his B46 route in Brooklyn.
The MTA said it implemented new safety precautions in the aftermath of that incident.
Less extreme assaults in recent years have involved irate passengers punching drivers. Other encounters have involved verbal abuse.
One driver told the News a rider hit her in the face and tried to pull her out of her seat after she skipped one of the route’s regular Bronx stops last month because it was under construction.