After a woman threw a cup of urine on a Metrobus operator, drivers’ protests are being met with calls for harsher punishment.
Metro Transit Police said Opal Brown of Southeast attacked the X2 bus driver and ran away last Saturday. She was arrested for simple assault Wednesday. Metrobus operators and their employer insist driver assaults cannot be met with a misdemeanor charge.
“Metro and the union also agree that laws need to be strengthened to help protect bus operators, including enhanced penalties for anyone who assaults a frontline transit worker,” said a Metro statement Friday.
X2 bus rider Danielle Lewis said she was shocked by the misdemeanor charge, adding the attacker should face jail time.
“The driver could have lost control of the wheel, and that would have left everyone in critical condition,” said Lewis.
WMATA agrees. It wants those who attack drivers charged with aggravated assault, citing driver assaults put passengers in jeopardy. Cities like New York have made assaulting a bus driver a felony charge.
“I think that would be a significant deterrent,” said Metrobus rider Brian Gaskins. After he saw a passenger hit a driver, he thinks protection comes from punishment. “I think it would help,” he said.