Officials look for fix amid wave of assaults of bus drivers

CINCINNATI (AP) — Authorities in Cincinnati are looking at possible solutions to an ongoing problem of city bus drivers getting assaulted by passengers.

Cincinnati Metro bus drivers have been assaulted 14 times since 2016 with nine in 2017 and two so far in 2018, according to records from the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. There is currently a bill in the Ohio Legislature that would increase the charge for assaulting a transit worker from a misdemeanor to a felony, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer .

State Rep. Brigid Kelly, a Cincinnati Democrat, is sponsoring the bill that would make it an automatic felony to assault a transit worker on the job. Offenders could face six months to a year in prison plus a fine of up to $5,000.

Cincinnati Metro said it is also looking at installing new Plexiglas barriers that would shield drivers from passengers.

There was a prototype bus in the city on August 2, one with a barrier already installed, but the local drivers didn’t like it, said Metro spokeswoman Brandy Jones. Drivers said they didn’t like how the barrier was not retractable and they said they thought the barrier itself was too small, according to Jones.

Officials don’t have a ballpark cost estimate for the barriers yet, as it would depend on design.

Although it isn’t yet clear how much barriers would cost if they are controlled, it could be an issue because Metro faces a $184 million deficit over the next decade.

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