The driver and passenger shoot at each other. The separation partition for the driver is not bulletproof (Photo: documentation on social networks according to section 27A of the Copyright Law, public transportation services in Charlotte)
In Israel, bus drivers are attacked on an almost weekly basis by violent passengers. In the United States, the incidents are already reaching firearms.
Earlier this month, David Pollard, a transit driver in Charlotte, North Carolina, was driving passengers when one of them got up and approached him. The passenger, Omri Sharif Tobias, asked the driver to drop him off outside the station.
Pollard told Tobias he would have to wait until the next stop. The two argued for two minutes, then Tobias pulled out a gun and pointed it at Pollard. In response, Pollard also pulled out a pistol.
The security camera video on the bus makes it unclear which of them opened fire first, but the two fired at each other almost at the same time. Pollard was hit in the arm by bullets that penetrated the cab protective door, and Tobias was hit in the abdomen.
The injured passenger crawled toward the back of the bus, where the other passengers also fled. Pollard opened the bus doors, and they both went outside, with the driver continuing to shoot.
Both were evacuated for medical treatment, but the other passengers were not injured. Charlotte State Police announced charges would be filed against the violent passenger for assault with a deadly weapon causing serious injuries, threats and carrying an undercover firearm.
Although no charges were filed against the driver, he was fired by the public transport operator in Charlotte. The company argued that the drivers were not allowed to carry weapons, and Pollard should have tried to stop the incident from escalating and allow Tobias to get off the bus at his request. Pollard worked as a driver for the company for 19 years.
According to data from the Transport Union Power for Workers, in 2022 there has been a 25% increase in the number of incidents of attacks on bus drivers. A sharper jump of 32% was recorded in Jerusalem, Haifa and the Valleys. The state budget approved last week by the Knesset included an allocation of NIS 20 million for the establishment of a new security unit that is supposed to improve driver security.
"The use of firearms on buses against drivers in Israel has not yet been encountered, thank God. But in the bus climate, the murder of a bus driver is only a matter of time. The police's handling of these cases of violence is particularly outrageous: nearly 90% of investigation files are closed "for lack of public interest." How is it possible that an attack on a driver that endangers dozens of passengers inside the bus and passengers in private vehicles around the bus is perceived as uninteresting? This is a potential attack.
"We congratulate the Ministry of Transport and its head for their desire to address and allocate resources to the scourge of violence on buses. The resources should be allocated to stationing security guards on lines prone to calamity. Our demand to deploy security guards in Tiberias has already led to a dramatic decrease in violence and the withdrawal of security guards has set the situation backwards. A change in driver status is also required. It is inconceivable that the person who operates public transportation is not defined as a public servant, so that whoever attacks a bus driver, just like attacking any public employee, will be punished accordingly."
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