The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released new statistics that show an increase in crimes against bus drivers. Passengers have been attacking drivers more frequently leading to a 20% increase in bus driver attacks. The MTA has calculated that there are 7 assaults every month on average.

In the first nine months of 2011, there were a recorded 69 physical assaults were perpetuated on bus drivers. There were 57 assaults recorded the previous year during the same time line. One reason workers are suggesting that the violence rates are on the rise is due to the driver’s supervision and training.

Workers say they are being instructed to challenge passengers that do not pay fares. This often results in volatile confrontations between drivers and passengers. Drivers insist that getting the police authorities involved in such affairs is what needs to happen to prevent acts of violence. They feel that having security on the bus is another way to circumvent violence against drivers.

Bus management resources have challenged the accusation that drivers are taught to confront unpaying passengers and insist drivers are taught only to ‘remind’ passengers of the fare requirements when boarding.

A recent case of violence seems to challenge both sides of the story. Bus driver Jamel Wright had been written up by supervisors and faced suspension after being observed allowing passengers who didn’t pay to ride the bus on several occasions. Wright kept his job but was required to take refresher training. After returning to work, Wright reminded a passenger about paying the fare and the passenger responded by punching Wright in the face repeatedly.