Metrobuses are under fire in a string of rock throwing attacks that put one driver in the hospital. It is happening in Southeast D.C.
Now the transit agency wants to change the route to keep buses safe. It's a dangerous that police haven't been able to stop.
The W-6 and W-8 bus lines make a loop from the Anacostia Metro station. Along the route, they are entering hazardous territory as attackers hurl rocks at them, and sometimes daily.
"We had one operator where a rock came through a window and struck an operator in the head, and she had to be hospitalized, transported and treated at a local hospital," said Philip Stewart, a Metro spokesperson.
The rock throwing escalated over the past few months, coming to a head when that bus operator was injured in September. No one has been arrested and no passengers hurt. But James Burton has witnessed the rock throwing firsthand.
"They were throwing rocks, eggs and some more stuff," said Burton. "The bus driver elected not to go down in that little hole, Robinson Place."
The buses are being pelted as they make their way along Robinson and Bruce Place and around Jasper Road. It is also happening on Elvans Road, a dead end street.
One woman who rides both lines is afraid of what might happen.
"It's scary," she said, not wanting to be identified. "It's very scary, especially when you're coming home at night. You don't know what's going on."
As a last resort, Metro is now proposing a plan to stop service in the two problem areas after 8 p.m. Riders would have to walk to the nearest bus stop on Stanton Road. It is a few hundred feet away for most people, a half mile at most.
"Transit police stepped up patrols," Stewart said. "I understand MPD also did the same and the problem just continued. So this really seemed like an appropriate step for us to take."
In a statement, Jackie Jeter, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents bus operators said, "These communities are physically designed in a manner that has allowed individuals to wait until a bus is exiting the community, then pelt the bus with rocks ... We are asking for more protection because bus operators are under attack and they do not feel safe."
The union calls rerouting buses a good step, but is also asking for safety shields for drivers and more transit police on buses.
Metro is holding a series of public hearing on proposed changes to several bus routes, including those where the rock throwing is a problem. The first one is Monday night in Southeast D.C. Metro's board would have the final say.
Statement from Jackie Jeter, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 689:
"Due to violent incidents that have endangered bus operators and passengers, ATU Local 689 is advocating to reroute routes after 8 pm on the W6 and W8 buses that currently travel into isolated side streets. On the routes in question, there is only one way to enter and exit the community. These communities are physically designed in a manner that has allowed individuals to wait until a bus is exiting the community, then pelt the bus with rocks. Some buses have also been shot at on isolated side streets. We are asking for more protection because bus operators are under attack and they do not feel safe. In addition to this rerouting, we have also asked for optional-use safety shields and more transit police officers on buses. The rerouting after 8 pm of these two routes is a good step towards increasing safety for bus operators and passengers, and the bus stops in question are in close proximity to stops on the major roadways, so inconvenience to passengers should be minimal."
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