Detroit bus drivers ready to protest Monday, urge riders to seek other transportation

DETROIT (WXYZ) - After two drivers were recently stabbed and another had urine poured on her by an angry rider, union officials representing bus drivers for the city of Detroit are set to protest in front of city hall at 10 a.m. on Monday.

The head of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 26 tells Action News that his members are fed up with taking the brunt of their passengers' frustrations. Fred Westbrook Jr. blames much of the problem on a shortage of buses, leaving passengers packed onto buses like "sardines".

We're told there are times when the buses are so packed with passengers that the driver cannot even stop to pick up anyone who has likely been waiting an extended amount of time for the bus.

A portion of a statement released by union officials Friday reads: "As a result of DDOT (Detroit Department of Transportation) operators being afraid and concerned for their safety, bus service on Monday,October 21st will be interrupted. We suggest DDOT passengers seek alternate transportation."

Detroit's Deputy Emergency Manager Gary Brown is urging the public to "get out their cell phones to get us the evidence we need against anyone who assaults a bus driver." Brown added that they will prosecute any offender to the fullest extent of the law.

Paul Toliver, the new Director of DDOT, tells Action News that they are looking to get additional mechanics to help get more buses fixed and on the road so they can avoid overcrowding issues. "It won't happen overnight, but we are doing what we can," said Toliver.

In an attempt to discourage crimes on buses, the city is set to install surveillance cameras on 240 coaches. A number of buses a number of buses are expected to have the cameras installed by November 1, 2013.

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