A Hamilton Street Railway driver is “emotionally disturbed” after an alleged assault following a fare dispute Friday evening.
The driver was picking up passengers at a stop at Mohawk Road and Milbank Place around 9:45 p.m, said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107 president Budh Dhillon.
What the driver told Dhillon is that he asked them to pay the proper fare.
The boys then pulled the driver out of his seat on the bus and dragged him onto the sidewalk. Dhillon says. One of them hit the driver with a chain.
“Physically, he does not have any life-threatening injuries,” says Dhillon, “but he is emotionally disturbed.”
The driver spent some time in hospital, but is now back at home.
Dhillon calls this an example of the "increasing number of assaults” against HSR drivers.
He says part of the problem is the lack of funding for transit from the city of Hamilton. It means that service is not what passengers expect.
The addition of traffic lights and two-way conversions that have slowed down city traffic sometimes mean busses sometimes don't arrive to their stops on time and connections are missed, Dhillon says.
“The anger is building from the public towards the drivers,” he says, “Drivers are the face of public transit to the passengers.”
Dhillon says the union asked for $30 million dollars and transit structure reform to redesign routes and add more buses in 2009. The union has a scheduled hearing date in September to discuss these proposals again.
Dhillon says the driver is not willing to speak to the media and that he is planning to return to work. He's just not sure when that might happen.