DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit Department of Transportation bus drivers are at an impasse with the city over safety concerns. That means there will be no DDOT bus service this weekend.
Hundreds of drivers say they're not driving their routes until the city and Detroiit police address ongoing safety concerns. Drivers chose not to leave the terminal on Friday and there was no bus service.
Mayor Mike Duggan held a press conference Saturday to address the bus shutdown. He said the bus drivers' actions went against union labor laws and the city's contract.
The union president said drivers are getting assaulted, and the city and DPD need to do more to protect them.
“I drove the bus from Grand River and 7 Mile to Grand River and the Lodge, and I was flashing 'help call police, help call police', rode past four police cars, and they never pulled up on me," bus driver Robert Webb said. “It just seems to me like the pandemic created a very hostile environment.”
From passengers angry over the mask mandate on buses to drivers pulling weapons, he said drivers are dealing with all of it.
He's one of hundreds of ATU local 26 union members participating in a work stoppage Friday.
“We’ve been out there since March putting our life on the line with the coronavirus and then to have these assaults, we don’t feel the city is behind us," ATU Local 26 President Glenn Tolbert said.
Tolbert added that hazard pay should be included.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig spoke with the drivers on Friday.
“I care about these men and women… I think we’ll be able to resolve some of these safety issues. I’m actually confident we’ll be able to do that," he said.
The city's Executive Director of Transit, Mike Oglesby, gave us a preview of Vapor V-Shield Barriers, which will eventually be installed inside every bus. They lock for the driver's safety and are designed to protect against COVID-19 and safety threats.
“We’re in the process of putting the barriers in. Originally we were going to have the barriers installed in the beginning of next year. That’s still a goal. But it looks like we’ll be able to get them in sooner. I’m hoping to get them in by Christmas," Oglesby said.