A violent year for SEPTA operators

SEPTA and union officials renewed their call for the passage of legislation that would add further protection for vehicle operators a day after a bus operator was shot and injured.

The shooting occurred near Vare and Snyder avenues around 11 p.m. Tuesday. Operator Bernetta Rembert, 46, was struck in the arm and drove herself to a nearby hospital. The incident marks the 47th assault against a SEPTA operator this year.

Senate Bill 236 would add bus operators to the protected class of workers, such as police officers and firefighters and make any assaults against them aggravated assaults. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Christine Tartaglione, D-Phila., has been in committee for seven years.

“This is a serious matter. Guns in Philadelphia and what’s taking place is atrocious,” said Transport Workers Union Local 234 President John Johnson Jr. “When you come to work as a bus operator, you don’t come with the fear of someone putting a gun to your head and trying to take what you have. … Our members, male and female, need this protection.”

Some lawmakers argue that adding bus operators to the protected class would water down the bill, but Tartaglione disagrees.

“This is one that needs to be put in there. It’s a no-brainer,” Tartaglione said.

Rembert, a 20-year SEPTA employee, is in stable condition. It is unclear when she will return to work.

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