June 16, 2024

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Days before deadly assault, LTD was told of bus operator concerns

4 min read
Days before a deadly assault on an EmX bus, the LTD board was warned about the potential for danger.

Days before a deadly assault on an EmX bus, the LTD board was warned about the potential for danger. During public comment at the board meeting Nov. 16, a member of the Southeast Neighbors Transportation Committee spoke up.

[00:00:14] Leo Folsom: (I) also wanted to note that we are actively meeting with bus drivers. We’re supportive of their efforts, trying to, you know, do what we can to support them and help them do well at their jobs, and also be well at their jobs.

[00:00:27] And on that note: John Q. Murray has written about some of the safety concerns that the bus drivers are facing—attacks on bus drivers. And you can only imagine—or some of you probably know from experience—what that can be like.

[00:00:41] And so that’s just really on the top of our mind. And we want to make sure that the board is aware and understands that it’s also just a really important concern for the (Southeast Neighbors Transportation) subcommittee and I think for a lot of people in the community.

[00:00:55] So I encourage everyone to check out some of those articles that really kind of lay bare some of the challenges the drivers and riders are facing.

[00:01:03] John Q: From our report published Oct. 24, LTD bus operator Farley Craig.

[00:01:08] Farley Craig: The mental health issue in Eugene, homelessness and drug use has really fallen through the cracks and so that all of the mental illness and homelessness end up kind of falling on the second tier… it falls on the bus drivers. A lot of ’em really want security up, on the buses.

[00:01:29] Their solution for lack of security on the EmX bus, which has definitely been a thing, has been that they’re not going to really push for people to have passes on the bus. They’ve found that somebody’s trying to get from Point A to Point B and we bring up a fare issue, then they can go south really quick. Over what? That they didn’t pay $1.75 to get from Point A to Point B.

[00:01:58] So that’s understandable, but at the same time, it’s really set a precedent for kind of like free-for-all. There’s not much accountability for riding the bus going out on West 11th.

[00:02:13] And I mean, I get it. I get that there’s been a real social change but as a bus driver, we are neither trained, nor do we have the ability to continuously police all the issues that are going on, on the bus while driving a 60-foot machine down the road.

[00:02:36] So we’ve had to just totally ignore what’s going on in the back of the bus and let the riders deal with it themselves, which is really unfortunate.

[00:02:46] There’s a lot of situations where we don’t have any tools… we have no ability to deal with these situations.

[00:02:53] John Q: From our report published Nov. 11, LTD bus operator Mark Durbin.

[00:02:58] Mark Durbin: You have people that come on that bus. I mean, I’ve seen guns, I’ve seen all kinds of things. It makes you very nervous. We have a bus driver right now that is out and probably will never return ’cause she got attacked. And that’s even with the barrier. Somebody got angry enough to come after a girl and it’s caused significant mental issues for her that she’s not able to even return to driving.

[00:03:23] But we’ve had knives pulled, people stabbed… We’ve had elderly gentlemen beat to a pulp on the bus. I’ve experienced people who are mentally unstable going berserk for no reason at all. I’ve had windows busted. I’ve been spit on several times and threatened on a regular basis.

[00:03:43] It’s continuously gotten worse. And I guess it’s what our culture has become now, and the bus is where you’re going to see that, especially the EmX, mainly. We can stop it at the front door on regular service for the most part. But the EmX, that fast pace, have to get going. You know, no security. It’s impossible to expect a driver to stop anybody getting on that bus.

[00:04:09] And I wouldn’t recommend any wife, mother, or even a father to bring their children on past 5:30 or six o’clock in the evening on an EmX bus. It’s unsafe. You can say it any way you want, but it’s unsafe. And I wouldn’t recommend anybody riding it, especially the West 11th corridor at night. It’s just—it’s not safe.

[00:04:33] John Q: LTD officials called the violence aboard the EmX “shocking and sickening,” and vowed to work with the union and local partners to keep the community safe.

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