This year has seen a sharp increase in assaults on Muni drivers, at a rate of nearly 17% higher than last year. From January through April of 2011, there were 35 assaults against Muni drivers. As the Ex reports, that’s one assault every 3 1/2 days.
Just this past Monday, as you might recall, three teens boarded the 30-Stockton bus in Chinatown, demanded free transfers, then reportedly beat the driver when they didn’t get them.
In addition to assaults, drivers have seen quite an increase in rude and aggressive passengers. L.P, a 5-Fulton bus driver tells the Ex, “There’s not a whole lot we can do. We basically just sit and take it, and hope no one gets violent with us.”
Who’s to blame for these attacks? Apparently, the media: “There has been a lot of negative information put out there about us by the media and management,” a spokesperson for the Muni drivers’ union told the Ex.
As the SFMTA recently hired a PR agency run by a former Chronicle scribe to handle information related to their contentious contract negotiations with the drivers, there might be something to that claim.
Then again, it’s not like anyone had to make up stories like the texting driver or the driver who opted to keep going with an open door. Not that, of course, any of these actions by individual drivers justifies assault on them or other operators!
Crime on Muni’s been a persistent problem, and attempt after attempt’s been made to ensure the safety of riders and drivers. SFPD says they are currently trying to monitor crime on Muni by deploying plainclothes officers, as they have for the last few years. Perhaps a new approach is in order?