Attacks on SEPTA drivers part of odd crimes trend

For the second time in two weeks, Philadelphia police have made an arrest for a random attack aboard a SEPTA bus.

The attack yesterday involved the operator of a Route 33 bus and it happened near Independence Mall shortly before 10 a.m. Police said a man boarded the bus, mumbled something in the driver’s ear and then began choking him. The driver was able to put the bus in park while two passengers quickly came to his aide and subdued the suspect.

When police arrived, the suspect allegedly punched and kicked officers. Robert Moore III, 32, of the 7300 block of North Granite Street, was charged with aggravated assault, causing/risking a catastrophe, simple assault, resisting arrest and related offenses. Police said they recovered a knife from Moore, but it was not used in the attack.

The operator was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation, but was not seriously injured.

The attack marks the 48th operator assaulted this year, up from 45 assaults this time a year ago, SEPTA said. In 2011, a total of 91 operators were assaulted, officials said.

“If it continues at the rate that it’s going, we’re going to have close to 100,” said John Johnson Jr., president of Transport Workers Union Local 234. “It’s troubling and it’s frightening.”

The random attacks have not been confined to operators. Last week, police arrested 49-year-old Cassie Darby for a May 31 attack on a 35-year-old passenger.

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