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Napolitano, Van Hollen, Katko Introduce the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act

June 6, 2018
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, U.S. Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32), U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24) introduced the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act with the support of bus drivers and union leaders from across the country.

“The bill we are introducing today seeks to protect drivers from assaults, increase public safety by eliminating dangerous and unnecessary blind spots, and provide additional upgrades to ensure safer travel for all,” Napolitano said. “Every day we hear major news stories of bus drivers being beaten, having items thrown at them, spitted upon, and verbally abused. LA Metro, for instance, which operates in my district experiences approximately 130 assaults on bus drivers per year.This is an unthinkable experience for drivers, and it also has major safety impacts on passengers, motorists and pedestrians, as these assaults often occur while the bus is moving. Assaults on bus drivers are very costly for the personal health of drivers and their families, but also for transit agencies that end up paying for healthcare costs and lost time of bus drivers off duty. We must do everything we can to stop assaults on bus drivers and reduce bus accidents with available technology.”

“Ensuring a safe work environment for transit operators is crucial to improving our transportation system for both passengers and employees,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen. “This legislation makes a long overdue push to improve safety conditions for these men and women -- and invests the resources to make it happen. I will continue working to secure critical investments in our transportation system.”

“The bipartisan, bicameral legislation we’ve introduced today addresses some of the major safety issues facing bus operations in Central New York and nationwide.  When drivers encounter hazardous situations, pedestrians and all travelers on the roadway are put in danger,” said Rep. Katko.  “Many of these assaults and risks are avoidable, and this measure takes steps to prioritize the well-being of bus drivers and pedestrians, as well as all travelers utilizing our nation’s transportation systems.”

Napolitano unveiled the legislation during a congressional briefing and press conference, flanked by bus drivers and union leaders from the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). A recording of the livestreamed video can be viewed here.

“This legislation is not just for Los Angeles, it’s for the whole United States,”said Art Aguilar, President, ATU Local 1277 in Los Angeles. “Operators have been unjustly terminated because of blind spots that they cannot control. This bill provides protection for our operators to not be found guilty right away or treated as criminals. Assaults on operators is the other major issue, and it is about time we are doing something about it. An injury to one operator is an injury to us all. We need to take care of them.”

The Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Actgives transit agencies two years to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs in partnership with their transit workforce, and with oversight from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The bill authorizes $25 million per year for 5 years to pay for the implementation of these safety improvements as part of their Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs:

·     Assault mitigation infrastructure and technology, including barriers to prevent assault on bus drivers

·     De-escalation training for bus drivers

·     Modified bus specifications and retrofits to reduce visibility impairments

·     Driver assistance technology that reduces accidents

·     Installation of bus driver seating to reduce ergonomic injuries

This legislation will also require transit agencies to report all assaults on bus drivers to the U.S. DOT’s National Transit Database (NTD). It is supported by the ATU, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART), Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, and Teamsters.

 

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