The MBTA Recommends Firing Driver Suspended for Passenger Altercation

Protective partitions used in Toronto, Canada.

Protective partitions used in Toronto, Canada.

Boston Globe | By Ellen O’Leary | 12.27.14

The MBTA has recommended firing the bus driver who was suspended for fighting with a passenger last Saturday, according to The Boston Globe.

A rider captured video of a forty-year-old Route 1 bus driver arguing with a male passenger. On the video, the passenger appeared to spit on the driver before exiting the bus between Massachusetts Avenue and Washington Street in Boston. The driver then followed him outside and swung an object at him, knocking him over.

The driver reported the incident but only cited the passenger spitting on her, failing to mention her retaliation. The nine-year MBTA veteran of the agency was consequently suspended for 30 days with the recommendation for termination.

An MBTA spokesman was unable to comment, stating that MBTA policy prohibits discussing disciplinary action against individual employees.

James O’Brien, President of Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, placed the blame on the MBTA.

“They haven’t been doing a good job handling drivers’ safety,” said O’Brien. “They need to follow through with the glass bus partitions. They promised them last May and haven’t installed them on a single bus. Maybe if they had, this operator wouldn’t have experienced this assault and she’d still have a job.”

O’Brien said that the MBTA rolled out a program last May but they’ve dropped the ball, to the risk of MBTA employees.

“It’s becoming an epidemic. Almost every week drivers get spit on or physically assaulted. And it’s a problem across the country. It’s everywhere,” said O’Brien. “And this isn’t the first time that this particular operator experienced something like this.”

Ellen O’Leary can be reached at or via Twitter @elle_mno.

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