NBC 4 New York
Two MTA bus drivers were attacked by passengers within a 75-minute period in Brooklyn Monday, the agency and police said. News 4's Marc Santia reports.
Two MTA bus drivers were attacked by passengers within a 75-minute period in Brooklyn Monday, the agency and police said.
A 30-year-old driver was stabbed with a syringe aboard a B68 bus shortly after 11 a.m. near Greenwood Avenue and Prospect Park South. The driver told police a passenger exiting the bus punctured him in the shoulder with a hypodermic needle before getting off.
The driver was taken to Methodist Hospital in unknown condition.
The driver's mother, who did not want to be identified, told NBC 4 New York both she and her son were "scared."
"You don't know if the needle was an infected needle, if it had anything in the needle, you don't know," she said.
In a separate incident about an hour later, a female driver was punched in the head by a passenger aboard the B45 at St. John's Place and Utica Avenue, the MTA said. The passenger had apparently become enraged when he thought the driver was taking too long helping a special-needs rider on to the bus.
"The passenger became irritated and walked up to her and punched her in the back of the head," said union president John Samuelsen.
That driver was taken to Kings County Hospital in good condition.
No arrests have been made in either incident and the investigations are ongoing. Police have released a sketch of the syringe assailant (below).
Last Thursday, Nelson Diaz was driving the Bx41 when he was also beaten by a passenger, angry because was denied a transfer after not paying his fare.
"When I said no, he spit, got up, started punching me," he told NBC 4 New York Monday. "He lunged at me, he charged at me, and he grabbed me by the neck and pinned me against the window."
Diaz is still in extreme pain and said he will have to retire early.
"I feel bad for those two operators today," he said. "I know what they're going through."
The MTA said 61 of its bus drivers were assaulted in the first six months of 2012, compared with 59 in the first six months of 2011.
Samuelsen said the union wants more done to protect the workers.
"If the mayor or the governor or anybody else was forced to operate one of our buses, there'd be a partition in place and a uniformed cop on the bus," he said.
Diaz believes officials aren't aware of how risky it is to work as an MTA bus operator.
"They don't realize it's a dangerous job," he said. "When I go to work in the morning, I pray."