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Attacks on bus drivers spur $15,000 reward offer

The level of assaults on bus drivers is unacceptable, according to local unions. - Black Press file photo
The level of assaults on bus drivers is unacceptable, according to local unions.
— image credit: Black Press file photo

Three unions representing TransLink employees are helping put up $15,000 in reward money to fight back against assailants who violently attack Metro Vancouver bus drivers.

Half of the money is coming from Coast Mountain Bus Co. and the District of West Vancouver, increasing the reward offer from a previous $2,000 for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for bus driver assaults.

"It’s unacceptable," said Nathan Woods, president of Unifor local 111, which represents bus mechanics and SeaBus workers. "Our members are disgusted and our riders are appalled that violence against bus drivers continues at extremely high levels, with over 1,260 assaults in the past eight years."

Union leaders say dangerous attacks on drivers have happened while buses are moving, posing a threat to passengers as well.

There have been 124 driver assaults so far in 2013.

Nearly two dozen cases have gone to court this year, with six convictions so far.

"Being punched, kicked, choked, spit on or even verbally and physically threatened while simply doing your job trying to get riders safely to their destination is totally devastating and demoralizing for bus drivers,” said Unifor's Ruth Armstrong, adding lost work days and medical care also cost the broader public.

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