A 42-year old woman “in a wheelchair” has been arrested by Transit Police after she allegedly assaulted a bus driver on Tuesday.
The unprovoked incident occurred just after noon on Hastings Street near Gore Avenue in the Downtown Eastside. A visibly agitated and verbally abusive woman was attempting to board the bus, but the bus driver changed his mind and did not allow her on.
As the wheelchair ramp was retracting back into the bus floor, the woman leapt from her wheelchair and allegedly punched the bus driver in the head and tried to bite him.
Passersby and other passengers assisted with getting the woman off the bus. She then apparently stood up and took off on foot with her wheelchair.
The woman is known to police and was arrested later in the day at SkyTrain’s Granville Station. She is undergoing a psychiatric assessment at St. Paul’s Hospital and will go to jail when she is released, CTV Vancouver reported.
A passenger recorded the incident on their mobile phone while a building CCTV camera with sight-lines to the bus stop caught the entire scuffle.
Since this year began, there have already been dozens of attacks on bus drivers, including an March 11 incident when three young women and three young men boarded the bus without paying. When the bus driver told them to get off, the three young women responded by pulling her hair to the floor of the bus and punching her.
All three women are known to police and were arrested and charged for their attack.
The rise in disturbing, violent attacks on bus drivers has led operators and the union to call for better enforcement and a line of defence for workers. This includes the idea of installing of metal cages that would completely seal off the driver’s seat, in effect providing them with a physical barrier against angry commuters.
Editor’s note: the suspect was arrested by Transit Police, not Vancouver Police
Image: CTV Vancouver screencap