TARTA drivers fear recent passenger incidents

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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – TARTA bus drivers are asking for increased safety assistance as they begin to see unruly incidents on the rise.

Several recent incidents have led them to call for the code of conduct to be enforced.

No one 13abc has spoken with can determine the exact “why” for the increase in violent incidents. It’s probably a combination of things with a combination of fixes to hopefully help.

Veteran TARTA bus drivers say they are seeing a change in passenger behavior recently and it is concerning.

“We had three assault-type situations in the last week and one near-assault, so it’s not something we’re used to,” said Carly Allen, president of Local 697.

Allen is not only the president of the TARTA drivers union, but she herself drove a bus for 16 years. She wants TARTA to strengthen the enforcement of the code of conduct and deal firmly with unruly runners.

“It was built on the lack of enforcement and once people realize the code isn’t enforced it opens the door to radio because nobody comes, that’s the kind of feeling, of agreement, that we’re going to take our chances or we’ll leave before the TPD comes because there’s no security available right now,” Allen said.

Allen says law enforcement has been left behind during leadership changes in recent years.

“In an ideal world, a security guard on every bus would be great. Taxally, I don’t know if the agency would be able to pull that off. But at least off-duty officers at the transit station during our peak hours, weekends,” Allen said.

“In addition to de-escalation training, we are looking at all kinds of safety improvements that we can make to our buses, including safety barriers for drivers, but also camera systems that we can identify more quickly. and collaborate with security forces,” said Sam Melden. , TARTA’s Director of External Affairs and Communications.

Melden says bus security guards are not being discussed but a dozen buses will soon arrive with plexiglass barriers around drivers while others will be retrofitted with them, but that will only happen in the calendar year.

All TARTA rides are currently free. Some drivers told I-Team they felt the violence was increasing because passengers were getting on and off as they pleased. When the charges come back, that could also be a problem.

“As we look at the tariffs coming back in August, how can we implement these tariffs in a safe way for everyone involved,” Melden said.

“My biggest worry is that when we start collecting fares the assaults will increase again because if you’re going to hit me on a mask or an open beer can what’s going to stop you when I hit my box and say the fare is a dollar and a half,” Allen said.

When someone is unruly or violent, the driver should call the dispatcher who can either walk the driver through the situation, send a supervisor to defuse things, or possibly call the Toledo police. The hope is to get an officer there or at least get to the transit center where hopefully someone is working off duty and can step in.

We are told that some riders are now banned due to recent incidents. The key is to spot them if they try to come back.

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