Police are searching for a man who repeatedly punched an MTA bus driver after he refused to let him ride for free.
The assault happened around 11 p.m. on December 14th, according to police, after the suspect got on the bus at Merrick Boulevard and 220th Street in Laurelton, Queens. When the 32-year-old bus driver refused his demands for a free ride, the man pummeled him in the face and fled the scene.
The driver was taken to Franklin General Hospital in stable condition. The suspect is described as about 6 feet tall and in his early 20s, last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, blue sweat pants and white sneakers.
A second bus driver was also assaulted in Manhattan over the weekend. Authorities say they arrested Sharif Pasha, 42, for attacking a 28-year-old bus driver in Kips Bay on Friday. He allegedly approached the driver's side window and repeatedly punched the driver in her face and chest, then fled the scene. He was caught an hour later near a Men's Shelter on 30th Street and charged with felony assault, the NY Post reports.
Over the summer, Transport Workers Union Local 100 said that violence against transit workers was rising, and pushed for voluntary body cameras for bus drivers and subway workers. They cite an 11 percent increase in bus and subway worker harassment over the past year. While crime against subway workers has increased, serious misdemeanor assaults and felony attacks against bus drivers have declined, the union said.
Assaulting an MTA employee is a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.