By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Metro transit wants its riders to understand that operators are like everyone else and are just trying to do their jobs, so the company is rolling out a campaign to remind them that “We take this trip together.”

“This campaign is to get the awareness out that were all going the same direction. Let’s ride and be friends together,” Brian Williams said.

Williams wants this campaign to work for the sake of his wife, who is a bus driver, and his friends.

Williams was attacked in May of last year as he waited to relieve another driver in St.Paul.

“I have the scar on my face,” Williams said. “I had to get new dentures because he broke my dentures.”

The attack on Williams was one of 104 assaults on bus operators in 2018.

Many were captured on camera and helped lead investigators to the people responsible.

“It’s good to know that Metro Transit is finally putting this out there publicly that this is what can happen if you do interfere with the operation of a bus and assault an operator,” Amaglamated Transit Union President Ryan Timlin said.

Timlin is happy another step is being taken to protect his membership.

Stickers will be placed on buses letting riders know, if you are convicted of assaulting a transit operator, including spitting, you can face up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.

“It feels like there’s been an uptick on spitting and things like that, but we haven’t seen like the punching,” Timlin said.

Metro Transit has fitted about 150 buses with barriers to protect drivers.

It believes the barriers are behind the decrease in the number of assaults on drivers so far this year.

Reg Chapman