CAW Demands Tougher Laws after Vancouver Transit Driver Attacked

January 4, 2010, 2:34 PM EST

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CAW Local 111 is calling on the federal government to introduce tougher legislation to protect transit drivers, following a vicious Boxing Day attack on a Vancouver bus driver.

In the attack a car driver, refused to move his car from the clearly marked bus stop and subsequently boarded the bus and punched the driver in the face.

"In 2009 we have had nearly 150 assaults on bus drivers in Metro Vancouver - that is totally unacceptable and we need action from the federal government to make these attacks subject to tougher sentencing, including jail time," said CAW Local 111 President Don MacLeod.

MacLeod said the union continues to offer a $2,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in serious bus driver assaults. In this case police were able to arrest the attacker shortly after the incident, thanks to assistance from bus passengers and the driver.

"Public transit should be a safe way of travelling throughout Metro Vancouver and yet our drivers are being assaulted at a rate of one almost every other day.  This poses a significant threat to both members' and public safety," MacLeod said, as some of the attacks have happened while the bus was in motion.

"Punishing the offenders more severely is not the only answer but it certainly sends a message that these attacks will send you to jail, so think twice before you hit a bus driver."

The union continues to push for adoption of a private members bill introduced by Burnaby-New Westminster Member of Parliament Peter Julian to give bus drivers and transit operators the same protections under the Criminal Code afforded to police and ambulance personnel if they are assaulted while performing their duties.

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