It will be a story like this one, the need for the Milwaukee County Transit System to install 'driver shields' to protect bus drivers from their riders, that will be told to disbelieving children in schools (who, along with their families, when they aren't walking through safe streets, utilize public transportation for almost all of needs) as the perfect metaphor for the dark ages their ancestors lived through.
|Driver shields on public transportation. Rosa Parks' ultimate legacy...|
Survived. [Bus driver suffers extreme fear after being beaten on the job, Fox6 Now Milwaukee, May 31, 2013]:
Phil Rouse, the 61-year-old bus driver who was beaten while on the job, says his life has changed dramatically since the unprovoked incident.
Rouse has been a Milwaukee County bus driver for five years. The night of May 8th, he was attacked and severely beaten by 27-year-old Corian Morgan.
“I wake up every morning hoping I just had a bad nightmare,” says Rouse.
As Morgan was exiting the bus he allegedly punched Rouse repeatedly in the head, causing him to lose consciousness.
“I turn my head to say goodbye to the person leaving the bus, and see stars,” recalls Rouse. “I have a phobia right now of people coming up behind me.”
Rouse also suffered a concussion and now struggles with stuttering and memory loss.
Milwaukee County Transit System spokesperson Jacqueline Janz says changes are being made to buses.
“One of the things that we are doing is installing driver shields,” says Janz.
Fifty-five new buses with shields will be arriving in the county soon. Janz is hopeful that the entire fleet of 420 buses will have the safety device by the end of the year.
“I’m very, very concerned about the safety of all other bus drives,” says Janz.Driver shields.
We've seen a rise in recent attacks on Milwaukee County bus drivers. Sheriff David Clarke has ideas about how to protect them.
The violence caught on camera, a teenager assaulting a bus driver. It has Robert Dowden on edge about his job. "It's an on-going problem. It's getting worse," Dowden says.
The attack is only one of a few incidents in the past week, several this year. On TMJ4's Daybreak Friday morning, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says bus drivers need more protection. "Today a ride on the Milwaukee County bus has become a frightening and intimidating experience," Clarke says.
Clarke says he's tried talking to transit administration in the past, suggesting these safety shields in all buses to protect drivers.
"The driver's enclosed. You can't get to the driver. I've talked about that. I've talked about some defensive weapons," Clarke says.
The union who represents transit employees claims of the hundreds of buses on the roads, there are 25 to 30 with safety shields. However, in the past, drivers didn't want those safety shields.
"Some people don't like to feel enclosed. The shield does enclose you in there and you're in this small area," Amalgamated Transit Union Vice-President Rick Bassler says.
But, now that safety is an issue on the bus, some drivers have had a change of heart.
"We do have a few operators that have been assaulted in the past - that have requested buses for shields. We have accommodated them," Bassler says.
Interesting, because shields have already been installed or are being tested by agencies in New York City; Chicago; Washington; Rochester, N.Y.; Seattle; and other cities. It seems the problem isn't germane to just Milwaukee, where 48 percent of the transit riders are bringing Chicago-style thuggery to the transit system.
After attacks on bus drivers in 2008, it was suggested they be allowed to carry guns
If pepper spray falls short, union officials say, they’d consider guns, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 16, 2008].
Approximately 100 people, many of whom rode the bus, recently gathered at Washington Park Senior Center to voice their concerns about dwindling state funding for the Milwaukee County Transit System.
“We need a dedicated source of funding,” said Laura Kukor-Shea, one of the bus riders who spoke at the “Community Listening Session.”
“A healthy city depends on every citizen being able to move from place to place; and a healthy city depends on a good transit system,” Kukor-Shea added.
Karina Rotker, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin recalled that in 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested for sitting at the front of the bus. “The transit justice struggle now is not where you can sit, but where you can work, live, go to school and get healthcare,” she said.
The Rev. Willie Brisco, president of Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), said public transit and unemployment are connected. “One of our community’s biggest concerns is the extreme and unacceptable rate of joblessness in the central city, for persons of color in general and African-American men in particular. We need to make sure that the transit system can help people in our community get to jobs.”
The listening session was sponsored by ACLU of Wisconsin, African-American Civic Engagement Roundtable, ATU Local 998,Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Disability Rights Wisconsin, IndependenceFirst, MICAH,Midwest Environmental Advocates, Milwaukee Transit Riders Union, 9to5, Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light, andVolunteers of America of Wisconsin.