British Columbia

Transit assault victim calls for onboard alert system

A number of recent assaults on TransLink vehicles has raised questions about whether current safety measures are sufficient to protect people — but one victim has a specific fix he thinks could help.

Attacks are rare, says TransLink

A number of recent assaults on TransLink vehicles has raised questions about whether current safety measures are sufficient to protect people — but one victim has a specific fix he thinks could help.

2011 bus driver assault causes

  • Belligerent passenger: 43.
  • Fare-related: 29.
  • Road rage: 10.
  • Unstable/mental health issues: 7.
  • Stop request: 7.

Source: Canadian Auto Workers Union

As part of a three-part series on TransLink security, CBC News Vancouver spoke to Steven Andrews, who was assaulted on board a bus in 2010.

Andrews was on a crowded bus on Vancouver’s North Shore when he ran into a group of men who were hassling passengers and smacked a teenager on the side of the head.

"I said to the guy closest to me, 'Hey, someone's called the cops. You better get off.' That was enough for him to turn on me and punch me in the face and then his buddies joined in," says Andrews.

His front teeth were shattered in the attack. His attackers jumped off at the next stop, and Andrews says the driver had no idea he had been beaten up.

Get within sight of driver, says TransLink

"Yeah, having some sort of alert system, just a button to alert the driver that's something going on [would help]," said Andrews.

2011 bus driver assaults

  • Verbal threats, spit at or on, minor injuries: 100.
  • Spit on face, injuries, possible hospital visit: 44.
  • Physical assault, injuries with hospitalization: 1.

Source: Canadian Auto Workers Union

TransLink spokesperson Drew Snider says attacks like the one on Andrews are rare and he isn't sure a panic button is worth the money.

"Most of the time there will be an opportunity to get up and within sight of the bus driver," said Snider.

That didn't work for Andrews, who now avoids taking the bus at night if he can.

A 64-year-old Vancouver man was recently arrested and charged with two counts of sexual assault after two women were groped on public transit.

In January, a female bus driver was allegedly groped by a male passenger on the #22 bus.

In October, 18-year-old Jamie Kehoe was stabbed to death during a fight on a bus in Surrey.

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With files from the CBC's Leah Hendry

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