Video Shows Attacks on AC Transit Drivers Spiking, While Agency Touts Decline

Vicky Nguyen, Mark Villarreal and Kevin Nious, NBC News, February 26, 2018

{snip} But hours of surveillance video reviewed by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit actually found a spike in attacks reported by drivers during that time. Drivers say these attacks create significant delays, and jeopardize public safety.

NBC Bay Area requested records for nearly 200 alleged assaults on drivers from 2014 to November 2017. Security video showed drivers enduring a barrage of attacks while behind the wheel. Some of the weapons used include umbrellas, canes, and pepper spray. One driver was even threatened with a gun.

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Operators said they first asked AC Transit for additional protection through their union back in 2014. That request included more training to defuse violent passengers and a physical barrier for certain routes, similar to the ones used on buses in San Francisco and Miami.

District management considered their requests, but decided the changes were not needed at the time.

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NBC Bay Area asked AC Transit Chief Operating Officer Salvador Llamas about the drivers’ safety concerns and why the district’s surveillance cameras appear to show more assaults than the district reports to the public.

He said it’s due in part to increased awareness from drivers about the reporting protocol, and he encourages drivers to always call in to dispatch when they feel unsafe.

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After NBC Bay Area began asking questions, AC Transit is now responding to driver concerns by testing out a protective shield on some of their buses.

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AC Transit hopes to have those shields installed on buses by this summer.

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