OC Transpo bus driver smacked in nose by passenger for being late

A city bus driver is nursing a broken nose after being assaulted for running 10 to 15 minutes late in the south end.

“He’s a ‘spare’ driver so he was given that route that night,” said Ottawa police Const. Chuck Benoit.

The incident took place July 26 around 10:45 p.m. on Route 99.

The suspect, a white male, 17 or 18, boarded the bus on Earl Armstrong Rd. just west of Spratt Rd., sitting at the back.

As they approached Riverside station, he walked up to the driver saying something to the effect of “I need somebody to take me f—ing home,” said Benoit.

The driver was struck in the face once, though it’s unclear if a weapon was used and the suspect bolted.

Cops were called at 11:05 p.m. after a supervisor was notified by the driver.

Police must be called first if a crime is in progress, said Benoit.

There were no witnesses; the driver was taken to the nearby hospital, treated, and released.

“I have spoken to him and he’s still recovering at home,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 vice-president Sharon Bow.

She called the incident “devastating” for her colleague, “and also it affects their families, so it’s sad that some people in society feel that, you know, that they can do this sort of thing.”

OC Transpo has “zero tolerance” for violence, general manager John Manconi told the Sun Friday.

“The message here is do not assault our operators or our passengers, because we’re going to take every step possible to prosecute,” Manconi said.

Last year, 59 assaults involving drivers were reported, varying from a slight push to a major altercation to spitting, according to Manconi.

“Think about that. Spitting on another human being — how intolerable should that be? It’s just very degrading,” he said.

Manconi and the driver have yet to speak.

“We’re playing telephone tag. We’ve left each other messages. He got back to me,” said Manconi, noting the employee has asked for privacy and doesn’t want his age or any other identifying traits released.

The driver will receive assistance and “we make sure that they’re fit and ready to return to work in all aspects, because it can have (a psychological effect) on you,” said Manconi.

“We always walk in their shoes … we’re here to support them when that happens.”

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/08/02/oc-transpo-bus-driver-smacked-in-nose-by-passenger-for-being-late

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