While SEPTA and elected officials are supporting new legislation as a way to stem a drastic increase in the number of assaults against operators, including several recent incidents, other cities have taken more aggressive measures to deal with the issue.
New York City already has laws to more aggressively prosecute attackers of transit operators, but has seen its number of operator assaults rise to 56 through the first seven months, compared to 46 from the same period a year ago. It is piloting a protective shield that encloses the operator.
“It’s something we’re piloting, and the assaults on transit employees is a concern to us,” said Charles Seaton of New York’s MTA, which has a fleet of approximately 6,000 buses.
Officials with the Metro in Houston have given operators the choice to carry a pepper gel, which requires mandatory training. About 100 operators carry the gel, Metro police Capt. Michael Raney said.
“We deal with a lot of folks, and the majority of our assaults are not aggravated assaults. They’re things that arise over fare disputes or someone thinking the operator passed them up the day before,” Raney said.