On a sunny afternoon in February, a young man boarded the No. 13 bus at Castle Downs Transit Centre and got into an argument with the transit operator.
The man took offence after the driver pointed out he had boarded with an expired transfer. The situation seemed to cool off after another customer offered to pay for the man, who moved to the back of the bus. But when the driver called transit control to advise them of the issue, the man became aggressive.
What came next is documented in a “violence against transit operator” report, prepared by the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) whenever a driver is assaulted.
“The suspect attacked the op, punching him in the face, biting him on the arm and striking him with a piece of … cabin door that was broken off after being kicked by the suspect,” the report states.
The blow from the broken plastic left a large gash below the driver’s left ear.
The incident was one of 193 documented cases of violence against a transit operator in Edmonton since 2014, which Postmedia obtained through a freedom of information request.
The stories should renew debate over driver protection, and highlight the “disturbing” level of violence transit operators continue to face eight years after the near-fatal beating of an Edmonton bus driver, said the president of the union local representing ETS employees.
“It’s alarming,” said Mark Tetterington, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 569. “There’s got to be more that we can do to protect those operators.”