A TransLink bus driver operating a large articulated bus in East Vancouver on Saturday was physically assaulted by a passenger while the vehicle was still in motion.
According to Transit Police, the incident occurred while the bus was traveling southbound on Commercial Street near East Broadway. After the bus stopped on the north side of East Broadway to let passengers disembark and then proceeded to travel southbound again, a passenger moved to the front of the bus and without warning punched the driver on the shoulder, with the hand bouncing off the shoulder and grazing the operator’s face.
The passenger shouted to be left off the bus, and the driver complied by stopping the bus at the intersection. The suspect was then seen entering SkyTrain’s Commercial-Broadway Station, and from there he traveled to Scott Road Station before changing trains to get off at Columbia Station in New Westminster.
Transit Police located the man at Columbia Station and arrested him after a struggle. He has been identified by police as Merle Henry Alexander, a 36-year-old New Westminster resident with a history with law enforcement. He remains in police custody and is scheduled to appear in court on May 11 to face a charge of assault.
“The bus operator, who received minor injuries, was upset and extremely concerned by the suspect’s apparent disregard for the safety of passengers, pedestrians and vehicles in and around the bus,” reads a release by Transit Police. “The loss of control of such a large vehicle at such a busy intersection could have proved disastrous.”
There have been 32 assaults against bus drivers from the start of the year to the end of April. This represents a slight decrease from the same period in 2015.