For Immediate Release
Contact James O’Brien
Phone: (617) 835-0678
Carmen’s Union Criticizes MBTA Over Dismissal of Assaulted Driver
Delayed Installation of Operator Protections a Problem, as Assaults on Drivers Continue
Boston, Mass. December 26th, 2014 — Despite continued and escalating unprovoked assaults on local bus drivers, the MBTA has failed to take appropriate action to protect its employees resulting in an unsafe environment for drivers and riders. Last week’s incident involving a driver who had been the victim of numerous recent assaults on her route, underscores the severity of the
problem. The driver was forced to defend herself after a preventable crime was committed against her, and as a result, she has been suspended by the same Authority that is responsible for ensuring the safety of its employees.
“We are deeply concerned about the Authority’s lack of commitment to its employees,” said Carmen’s Union – Local 589 President, James O’Brien. “Rather than terminating a well regarded, 10-year employee of the MBTA, the Authority should be providing a workplace that is safe and allows drivers to do their job well.”
Earlier this year, in response to a rising number of assaults on bus drivers, the MBTA began testing a barrier on a single bus that would help protect operators from unruly passengers seeking to attack them. This barrier is similar to those used by transit authorities from around the country and in taxi cabs here in Boston, where barriers are mandated. Despite the success of such
barriers being used in other communities and despite the legislature mandating additional protections for drivers earlier this year, the MBTA has failed to deliver on its commitment to install these critical protective devices in a reasonable time frame.
“These types of assaults are preventable and avoidable if the investment is made, and it is especially important for our female drivers who are often alone and without protection,” said Local 589 Vice President, Peggy LaPaglia. “Had the barrier been in place earlier this month, then the initial assault would likely not have happened, and everyone, including the driver and riders,
would have been able to continue their route without incident.”