A man is facing charges after assaulting and harming a VIA bus driver earlier this month. The operator was not driving, but he was in full uniform and on his way to his shift.
The incident has VIA drivers on high alert and concerned for their safety.
The driver was on-duty and on his way to relieve another driver until he asked Stefon Lamar Davis, who was lying down across the back seats of the bus, to make room for him.
According to an affidavit, as he was exiting the bus, Davis struck him from behind, hurting his eyes, nose, and causing him dizziness.
VIA transit police searched for the man in the area where the assault happened and used surveillance video to track him down.
On Tuesday, Davis was charged with assault on a public servant, causing bodily injury.
Juan Amaya, president of the drivers union, said that operators have safety concerns.
“They just don’t feel safe driving out there anymore,” he said.
“Most of the attacks that have been happening on the buses are when the operators are actually driving,” Amaya said.
In fact, there have been several assaults on drivers in the past. Earlier this month, Amaya and dozens of drivers held a meeting with VIA board members to raise concerns about their safety.
Tremell Brown is the vice president of safety, training, and security for VIA, and he said that drivers and union members have come to him with concerns.
“Across the industry, there’s an initiative to increase and improve operator safety,” Brown noted.
One improvement, which Amaya and many drivers have asked for, is some sort of shield on the buses, separating drivers from passengers.
“The idea of a shield is only one of many,” Brown explained. “We’re looking into that option as well as several others. We are interested in just trying to find something that can create a safe space for our passengers as well as our operators.”
Still, Amaya thinks that more can be done, like having more transit police.
The case is still under investigation.