Fearful bus drivers speak about dangers of job

Jacksonville bus drivers on edge after attacks on cab drivers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After two cab drivers were attacked in the last week — one was killed — some Jacksonville bus drivers decided to speak out about how dangerous their jobs are, too.

Channel 4's Scott Johnson spoke with a group of bus drivers about the dangers they said they face every day.

They said they want the public to know that drivers never know if the next person they pick up could be dangerous.

Bus driver George Brooks said just last week an apparently intoxicated and unruly passenger was kicked off the bus and then walked up to Brooks, spit in his face and threatened to kill him.

"It's emotional, very emotional, for somebody to do that to you," Brooks said. "I mean, why? I'm just doing my job. That's the lowest thing you can do to somebody is spit in their face."

Bus driver Dwayne Russell said he had a gun pulled on him in 2008, and driver Shawn Bradley said a man walked in front of her bus one night with some sort of bat or stick and busted the windows on the back door.

Driving a bus can carry an emotional toll, the drivers said, and seeing that one cab driver was murdered and another was stabbed in less than a week has the bus drivers on edge.

Bradley said the people who attacked the cab drivers could easily get on a bus and the driver would have no idea who they were.

"You always have that fear of what's going to happen next," Russell said. "It's just sad that what happened to that cab driver, it could've been me that particular day."

The drivers said sometimes uniformed cops are put on bus routes in high crime areas, but they think a better solution would be to have undercover cops on buses. Otherwise, they said, the bad passengers behave until the cops are gone.

The drivers said they have no complaints with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority as an employer and understand it's hard to control an environment when dealing with the public.

JTA released this statement about the drivers' concerns, "Operating an efficient and effective bus system is our mission, but the safety of our passengers and our bus operators is always our No. 1 priority. Our buses are equipped with on-board surveillance cameras. We will take every precaution to ensure the safety of our operators."  

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