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23 ual assault was not considered an assault. These agencies lematic, and 26% reported that assaults involving projectiles noted that sexual assault is considered to be a separate crime thrown inside the bus was a problem. One respondent men- category and therefore not included with other assaults. One tioned indecent exposure as a problematic assault type. agency noted that sexual assaults are handled by a special Another noted a "general lack of civility." The total number unit that specifically focuses on sexual incidents. Eighty-four of respondents was 58, and multiple responses were allowed. percent of respondents considered being spat upon an assault. About three-quarters of the respondents also categorize ver- bal threats, intimidation, or harassment involving a weapon Contributing Factors such as a knife or firearm as assaults. Seventy-two percent Although some assaults occur without reason, many assaults state that throwing projectiles inside the bus is considered to do have one or more contributing factors. Primary factors be assault, and 62% state that verbal attacks without weapons mentioned by respondents are displayed in Table 4. They are are considered assaults. Almost half of the respondents indi- fare enforcement and intoxicated passengers or drug users, cate that throwing projectiles at the bus is an assault. It is followed by rule enforcement other than fare enforcement, interesting to note that large agencies are more likely to con- school- and youth-related violence, and individuals with sider each definition an assault. mental illness. Larger and midsize respondents were more likely to indicate that fare enforcement and intoxicated per- ASSAULT CHARACTERISTICS sons or drug users were contributing factors to operator as- saults. Also, most of the respondents who indicated that Assault characteristics, such as frequently occurring assault routes in high-crime areas and service problems were con- types, time period of occurrence, assault frequency, and tributing factors were larger and midsize agencies. This is causes of assaults (or contributing factors) are addressed in expected because these agencies operate in metropolitan this section. Understanding these characteristics can help areas where crime is generally more prevalent than in subur- agencies address and mitigate assaults. ban or rural areas. Only two (3%) respondents indicated cash transactions Assault Types were a contributing factor. Because most U.S. transit bus sys- tems have exact-fare policies and automated fare collection When asked which operator assault type(s) is or has recently systems, the operator does not need to provide cash change. been problematic for the responding agency, the assault type Other answers included Halloween pranks (objects thrown at considered to be most problematic for agencies was verbal the bus), overly aggressive operators, operators who make threats, intimidation, or harassment, as indicated in Table 3. exceptions, verbal altercations, and attempting to aid a pas- This result mirrors those of workplace violence studies that senger. Multiple responses were allowed. indicate that verbal attacks are the most common form of work- place violence. The next most problematic assault type was spitting. Although seemingly minor, being spat upon can be Assault Frequency temporarily traumatic to the victim. Also, because aggravated assaults that result in physical injuries can be preceded by Survey participants were asked to state the number of bus minor assaults, even minor incidents need to be reported and operator assaults that occurred in the previous year. There closely monitored. Note that 100% of large agencies reported were 59 responses, ranging from zero to over 500. As ex- that they consider spitting to be problematic, whereas 70% of pected, the results correlated with agency size based on the midsize and 26% of smaller agencies reported it as problematic. number of peak buses and bus ridership. Figures 7 and 8 demonstrate that, as expected, the average number of as- A lower percentage of respondents (38%) reported that saults is related to fleet size (peak buses) and to annual bus assaults involving projectiles thrown at the bus was prob- ridership. TABLE 3 TABLE 4 PROBLEMATIC ASSAULT TYPES CONTRIBUTING FACTORS Problematic Assault Type % Contributing Factors % Verbal threats/intimidation/harassment 81 Fare enforcement 67 Assaults involving spitting 60 Intoxicated passengers or drug users 66 Assaults involving projectiles thrown at the bus 38 Other rule enforcement 53 Assaults involving projectiles thrown inside the bus School/youth-related violence 48 (including liquids) 26 Individuals with mental illness 40 Assaults while vehicle is in motion 9 Routes operating in high-crime areas 26 Assaults due to operator race/gender/size 5 Service problems (delays, service reductions, etc.) 24 Simple assault 3 Gang-related violence 12 Assaults involving weapons 2 Cash transactions 3 Total Responses 58 Total Responses 58