TTC bus driver allegedly assaulted after asking riders to wear masks, 2 people charged

Officials say two people are facing charges after a TTC bus driver was allegedly assaulted Sunday evening after asking passengers to wear masks.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents around 12,000 TTC workers, said the incident happened at approximately 7:15 p.m. on the Flemington Park route at Broadview and Torrens avenues, just north of Cosburn Avenue.

Local 113 president Carlos Santos said a bus driver was assaulted after asking four riders to wear a mask while on the vehicle.

A Toronto police spokesperson told Global News they were called to the scene for reports of an assault in progress. The spokesperson said a bus driver had a “verbal dispute” with two passengers and the passengers allegedly physically assaulted the driver and damaged the bus.

Read more: Transit union calling for drivers to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines

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Police arrested a man and a woman at the scene.

Meanwhile, Santos said after the alleged assault, the driver had to “wait 15 minutes for a bus that was driving back to the division” as she sought to return to her work location.

“It’s insulting that the TTC expects our members to drive packed buses, yet it can’t drive an operator who has just been assaulted back to their division due to COVID-19-related concerns,” Santos said.

However, in a statement the TTC said following the incident, a supervisor was “quickly” on scene and the driver was transported to hospital by paramedics.

“As we are not carpooling due to COVID protocols, we had to dispatch an out-of-service bus to then transport the operator to the division so they could file a report,” the TTC statement continued.

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Both ATU and TTC officials condemned the assault. The union called for more protections to prevent assaults against workers.

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“There needs to be more resources on the TTC system to ensure the safety of workers and riders,” Santos said.

“The TTC must enforce its mandatory masks policy for riders. In addition to the enforcement of masks, the TTC can better protect workers by reimplementing rear-door boarding on buses, blocking the two seats behind bus operators, stopping cash payments and cease issuing paper transfers to bus riders immediately.”

The ATU also called for transit workers to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more: Toronto transit riders and drivers still crammed into crowded buses

“We wish the operator a full and speedy recovery,” the TTC statement said.

“We will support that recovery through our employee assistance programs … We have downloaded video and will assist police as they continue their investigation for potential additional charges.”

Meanwhile, police said 26-year-old Toronto resident Desta Yematawork Haile was charged with two counts of assault, mischief under $5,000 and two counts of failing to comply and 25-year-old Toronto resident Kaitlyn Richter was charged with two counts of assault and theft under $5,000.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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