Clarke: Violence now 'occupational safety hazard' for bus drivers

CREATED Dec 9, 2011

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MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says that Milwaukee County Transit System bus drivers are too often the targets of violence.

"Driving a bus has become an occupational safety hazard, and it shouldn't be," said Clarke in the wake of recent incidents involving attacks on MCTS bus drivers.

Clarke was a guest on TODAY'S TMJ4's "Live at Daybreak."

"When all this other stuff is going on, when they're being attacked, then you're endangering all the passengers.  Today, a ride on a Milwaukee County bus has become a frightening experience.  We're trying to put an end to that and return a quality of life for people who use that public transportation."

A bus driver was attacked by a passenger who refused to pay Wednesday afternoon, 20 minutes before enduring a road rage incident where glass on the bus doors was broken.

Clarke suggests a number of remedies to the situation, including a way to enclose the bus driver's seating area and letting them have defensive weapons, but he claims transit officials have shut down those ideas.

"If you look at our airlines, you can't get to the pilot anymore.  They protect the pilot.  If you look at our subway systems, the drivers' (doors) are closed.  You can't get to the driver.  I've talked about that.  I've talked about giving them defensive weapons, and it's all been pooh-poohed by the transit administration," said Clarke. 

"When that driver is driving the bus, I want him or her to be doing one thing, and not worrying about their safety, which they have to now, but that takes their focus of a certain role, which is drive that 10 ton bus and move it down the street and get passengers from point A to point B."