'It's risky out there'; TriMet bus driver worried about safety after recent violence

Some TriMet operators are worried about their safety after several violent incidents targeting them (KATU News photo).png

Being a Trimet bus driver is getting dangerous according to a report released earlier this year the number of crimes against TriMet workers rose from just 8 in 2014 to 29 last year --17 of those incidents involved bus operators.

Dora Morgan has been a TriMet bus driver for more than 18 years, but she says recently things have changed.

"You just never know when you open up that door who is going to come in and if they are just going to sit down leave you alone," Morgan said.

Over the past few months, there have been several reports of passengers punching or harassing drivers; for example, a 15-year-old boy was arrested earlier this year for assaulting a bus driver.

"It's risky out there," Morgan said.

The concern has gotten so bad that Morgan said she and a number of other drivers won't question passengers who decide not to pay.

"If they get on and don't pay then they don't pay, it's just a piece of paper and it's not worth getting spit on, hit or stabbed," Morgan said.

According to TriMet officials, safety is a top priority which is why all buses, trains and transit centers have security cameras, but Morgan doesn't buy it.

"Safety is the word they use going out the door, they say it but they don't mean it," Morgan said.

Trouble on buses is a growing problem around the Northwest. Just last month, a Port Angeles bus driver was brutally attacked after helping a rider.

Morgan said there should be more help for drivers, after so many scary incidents.

"I don't think there is a support for drivers or empathy for them, we are always the ones being blamed," Morgan said.

TriMet officials said they added a new crime analyst last year, as well as 5 more transit police officers. They're also looking to better train workers and inform the public they'll be held accountable if they commit crimes against employees.

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