Although we are a few weeks removed from the Halloween season, the spirit of Cleveland bus driver-slash-pugilist, Artis Hughes, lurked over the city in Baltimore in true haunting fashion this week. A Baltimore bus driver was recently suspended by the Maryland Transit Administration pending a police investigation into an altercation between her (yes, the bus driver was a woman this time) and a young female student. The incident occurred about 2 p.m. Monday on the No. 40 bus line, according to a MTA spokesman speaking with the Baltimore Sun. As is becoming the norm, a video of the assault was posted on YouTube and quickly became a viral hit.
The $64,000 question is: Why the fight? We can’t glean any info about the origin of the incident from the video, but what we know is that it is a federal offense to hit a bus driver. This isn’t even to mention the fact that they are the reason why many in the city of Baltimore can safely get to and from to work. With more and more buses being retrofitted with security cameras and audio recording devices, why would anyone think it to be a great idea to start any drama with a Maryland Transit Administration worker? In the video (which starts in the midst of the melee), the bus driver can be seen wrestling with the female student. The teenaged student appears to punch and kick the driver multiple times as the driver tries to hold the girl down. Finally overpowering the student, the driver asks her if fighting somebody makes her “feel better.”
We don’t yet know if this entire episode could’ve been avoided, if this working adult had no other recourse than to fight a teen. The Baltimore MTA has a “very clear” policy about interacting with passengers, yet what is one to do when you’re caught up in the mix at that very moment? Terry Owens, the MTA spokesman, told the Baltimore Sun, “Our procedure is for operators not to engage a passenger if there’s a problem on a bus. Our operators are trained to call a supervisor. If there appears to be any serious threat of bodily harm, then they are expected to call radio dispatch and have a police officer come to the scene.”
The driver in question wasn’t buying that.
The Baltimore MTA has installed security devices on 10 of their buses within the city to test a new program that would eventually outfit all 600 buses used by the MTA each day. But is that enough to curb the new wave of l bus driver/passenger violence, or will the rules be rewritten to allow our public transporters a fighting chance?