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Bus operator violated policy during ride where passenger was attacked, Metro says

The attack on a passenger by a group onboard a Metrobus on Monday remains under police investigation, Metro said

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Metro has punished a bus operator who didn’t follow safety protocols amid an onboard struggle that resulted in a passenger being shoved off the bus.

Metro Transit Police are continuing to investigate the Monday attack, which was recorded by a passenger and posted to social media.

The attack occurred on Metro’s W4 route, which stretches from the Deanwood Metro station to the Anacostia station. The video shows a group of riders assaulting a woman and pushing her out the rear door of the bus, which had briefly stopped.

Metro prohibits bus operators from intervening in attacks or onboard disturbances to protect themselves. Drivers are required to pull over, stop and notify a supervisor.

Metro spokesman Ian Jannetta said the bus operator didn’t follow protocols in this instance, but did not specify which protocols.

“Appropriate administrative action will be taken,” he said in a statement.

Jannetta said transit officials have distributed a bulletin this week reminding Metrobus operators of safety protocols for onboard disturbances. Metro Transit Police are also increasing patrols along the W4 route, including on buses and at stations, he said.

Police have not made arrests in the attack of the 42-year-old woman, Jannetta said.

Representatives of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, the union representing most Metro workers, said in a statement they support Metro’s policy and do not want bus operators to intervene during disturbances, which the union said can put a “target” on their backs and lead to operators facing an assault. Metro last month announced that injuries suffered by bus operators rose last year compared to the year before.

“We strongly support this policy and policies like these because they are intended to keep our operators out of harm’s way,” the union said in a statement. “Our bus operators are not law enforcement officers and they shouldn’t have to act like them. Our members are not social workers. Our members aren’t trained to fight or break up fights. Our members aren’t trained to resolve the social issues that cause this violence.”

Bus operators across the country have seen a rise in hostility and violence since the pandemic began, union officials said.