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63 King County Metro Transit is planning to initiate BRT murder, manslaughter, assault in the first degree, assault with service and expects that its off-board fare payment system a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, sexual assault, will lessen the likelihood of operator assaults. robbery, threatening in the second degree, and kidnapping. Coast Mountain Bus Company in British Columbia, Canada, introduced the Fare Paid Zone initiative in 2007 to WMATA, Washington, D.C. transfer the proof of payment and any fare enforcement responsibility from the bus operator to a member of the Tran- Metrobus operators experienced fewer assaults in 2009 than sit Police or security staff. By 2009, the bus operator assault in 2008. WMATA reports that the decrease is believed to rate had significantly decreased. However, because this ini- have been the result of more stringent penalties for assaulting tiative was integrated with other security measures, it is not operators in D.C., and the elimination of paper transfers. possible to determine what impact this particular initiative had on the assault rate. The penalties vary by state. For instance, in Oklahoma and New Mexico, verbally threatening the operator with intent of seizing control of a bus is considered a felony. In LEGISLATION INCREASING PENALTIES New Jersey, a simple assault against an operator is upgraded FOR OPERATOR ASSAULTS to third-degree aggravated assault if the operator is injured and to fourth degree if the operator is not injured. In Col- The transit community (ATU and transit agencies) has been orado, interfering with a transit employee in the proper dis- advocating for tougher penalties against those who assault charge of his duties is a misdemeanor. Maximum prison transit operators. It is believed that this legislation, when well times and fines also vary considerably. In Georgia and Okla- publicized and enforced, can deter assaults. The TWU, how- homa, the perpetrator may be imprisoned up to 20 years for ever, has questioned the effectiveness of the legislation. aggravated battery and/or fined up to $20,000 in Oklahoma. According to a TWU representative, assailants do not con- In Rhode Island, a bus operator assault is a felony that may sider the consequences of their actions and it has not been be punishable by up to 3 years in prison, a $1,500 fine, or proven that assaults have been prevented as a result of the both. In South Carolina, a bus operator assault is a misde- legislation. At the time of this synthesis publication, almost meanor that may be punishable by up to 1 year in prison, half of all U.S. states have enacted stronger penalties. See up to $1,000 fine, or both. NYC Transit places appropriate Appendix A for a list of the states, provisions, and penalties. signage regarding the law near bus doors and inside buses. A few localities and states mandate the posting of signage regarding the enhanced penalties. For example, Illinois requires a notice to be prominently displayed in each vehicle EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE used for the transportation of the public for hire stating, As noted in the workplace violence literature, employee assis- "Any person who assaults or harms an individual whom he tance and support are important in the aftermath of an assault. knows to be an operator, employee or passengers of a trans- portation facility or system engaged in the business of trans- Encouraging bus operators to report all incidents, including portation for hire and who is performing in such capacity or verbal threats or intimidation, can be a deterrent and can assist using such public transportation as a passenger, if such individ- law enforcement in proactively policing buses and bus routes. ual is assaulted, commits a Class `A' misdemeanor, or if such Because a series of minor incidents has the potential to result individual is harmed, commits a Class 3 felony." in a major assault, addressing them promptly can prevent a serious crime from happening. Transit officers and security Many agencies within these jurisdictions display signage personnel can also encourage operators to report all incidents regarding enhanced penalties in their buses, even if they are and assist them in reporting details of an incident, which can not required to do so by law. help identify the assailant. Support after an assault occurs can help the operator heal more rapidly from any emotional or Agency Experience psychological effects of the incident. Immediately after an assault, the operator could receive prompt medical treatment CT Transit, Hartford, Connecticut and care, and support from supervision. Agencies generally offer support to their employees after an assault by offering CT Transit, in conjunction with other transit agencies in Con- counseling and other forms of assistance. Trained supervision necticut, worked with its union to pass legislation making can help operators in various ways after an assault, including bus operator assaults a felony. This legislation mandates "an provision of training or retraining operators on customer rela- enhanced penalty for specified criminal acts committed on a tions and how to deal with difficult individuals. This training transit worker performing his or her duties." It requires the may assist operators who have been victims of multiple as- offender to be fined or imprisoned up to 150% of whatever the saults. Legal support is also important. Informing operators of maximum fine or prison term would be for the subject crimi- the legal process and the results of the process (e.g., disposi- nal act. Criminal acts subject to the enhanced penalty include tion of the legal case) is helpful. Aggressive prosecution of