KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Punched, kicked and beaten with a bat, even stabbed while on the job. All of these attacks happened in Kansas City and it’s happening across the country to bus drivers.
Drivers are taking action and supporting a bill to keep them safe.
The bill would require barriers inside buses around the country to add an extra layer of protection between drivers and violent passengers.
An assault with a baseball bat fractured a Kansas City bus driver’s nose last week.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What can we do to make April and other drivers safe? That's the million-dollar question,” Jonothan Walker, President Amalgamated Transit Union #1287, said.
Last month in Tampa, Florida, a bus driver was stabbed to death.
“He just came to work that day to make a living for his family and now he won't be able to make it home,” Emma Miller, Tampa bus passenger, said.
The Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act was introduced this year.
It would require transit agencies to work with frontline workers and their unions to implement safety improvements and create risk reduction programs.
“We want the shields to be on the bus, but we want those shields to be made better,” Walker said.
After years of working to improve safety for bus operators in Kansas City, 100% of KCATA buses now include safety shields. But Walker said it’s not enough.
“Liquids can still be thrown at you like coffee. We had one incident where gasoline was thrown on a person,” Walker said.
One Kansas City passenger leaned around a barrier to spit on a driver. Bus operators fear someone with a weapon could reach around the current safety shields used in the metro.
“We need to be protected fully, not partially,” Walker said.
The bill has 146 cosponsors including Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II and Congresswoman Sharice Davids.
It would also require transit agencies to report all assaults on workers to the U.S. Department of Transportation to be published and tracked.
“The verbal assaults and the spitting assaults go unreported,” Walker said.
Right now, backers are working to gain more bipartisan support hoping to move forward.
“What we want to do is get home safely to our loved ones,” Walker said.
KCTV5 News asked the KCATA for statistics on just how many drivers were assaulted or had to call for help last year and so far this year. A spokesperson said they are working to gather and will provide us with that information.