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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 16, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Metro incidents are likely to increase

Public has little understanding of the pressure Metro drivers are exposed to

I am someone who has driven public-transit buses for King County Metro for 30 years. After reading “Metro bus driver fired after assault on passenger,” [NWSaturday, Dec. 14] I think it’s a good time to discuss the stresses bus drivers have been under, especially as of late.

After attempting to rouse sleepers who can’t or won’t be wakened, I have called for either a supervisor or police officer to remove the person or to arrange for this removal on my next trip to a major hub. If the sleeper remains asleep, his presence, though annoying, doesn’t usually present a threat to the driver.

That said, having someone spit in your face is no minor event. As the article states, the driver and passenger “have both been charged with fourth-degree assault.” It does appear the driver overreacted by not only hitting the rider with the wheel block but then repeatedly punching him. I don’t think the driver’s actions are excusable. He himself said he “lost it” after being spat on.

However, the general public has little understanding regarding the pressures that drivers are regularly exposed to. Especially since the Great Recession began five or six years ago, Metro has been cutting more and more of the drivers’ break times from their schedules, meaning they must drive longer without any respite.

In the last few months aboard the buses, a driver was shot and an armed robbery was attempted. And now this. With the projected budget cuts of 17 percent, such incidents are likely to increase.

— Michael Spence, Tukwila

Comments | Topics: king county metro

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