UPDATE: The IB 1 has resumed regular service. https://t.co/cLAe7fTyPS (More: 10 in last 24 hours)

#KeepThemSafe: Stopping Violence Against Those on the Front Line of SF Transportation

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Muni operators were assaulted 100 times between 2013 and 2015. With more than 700,000 Muni boardings and 8,800 bus trips every day, these attacks are rare – but any attack is unacceptable. And of course, it’s a crime.

The SFMTA is tackling this issue head on. We’re looking at ways to ensure the safety of all of our frontline staff, including transit operators, parking control officers, fare inspectors, station agents and custodians.

An advertisement image showing a male Muni operator alongside the text, “I get you across town safely. I wanted to get home safely, too. #KeepThemSafe. Every 11 days a Muni operator is assaulted

Ads like these will appear around San Francisco as part of a new campaign to spread the message to keep our frontline staff safe.

We always work with police investigators and provide evidence like video footage to address these assaults when they happen. Now, we’re launching a comprehensive approach to help prevent them in the first place.

The first step is a campaign to remind the public that our staff are parents, friends and neighbors who do very tough jobs. They work hard each day to ensure our customers get where they’re going safely, whether it’s driving a bus or keeping rush hour traffic moving. They deserve to make it home safely at the end of the day. 

That’s the message of our campaign: “Keep Them Safe.”

Think about it. Tell your friends about it. Share it on social media with the hashtag #KeepThemSafe.

Starting this week, you’ll see images spreading the message across our transportation system.

An advertisement image showing a woman alongside the text, “My neighbor keeps traffic moving so you get home. Let him get home, too. #KeepThemSafe. Assault on a parking control officer is punishable by a fine and jail time.

Of course, an ad campaign is not enough. It’s just the first step in a multi-pronged approach by a task force that includes the San Francisco Police Department and SFMTA specialists in transit, security, communications, human resources and workplace safety.

A May 2016 report from the SFMTA’s security team found a disturbing trend in assaults on Muni operators.  There were 18 physical assaults on operators in 2013, and they increased to 24 in 2014. By the next year, the number of operator attacks had more than doubled to 58. It’s a trend the SFMTA is determined to reverse.

From June 2015 to June 2016, there were also eight assaults on parking control officers, three on transit fare inspectors and one on an employee of the Muni Transit Assistant Program, which provides ambassadors on different transit lines.

A review of reports and security video of each violent incident involving transit operators showed that in the overwhelming majority of them – 61 percent – there were no signs of any altercation or incident right before the assault. Another 17 percent were tied to disputes over stops, and 16 percent involved disputes about fares.

This isn't a problem the SFMTA is working on alone. The Federal Transit Administration announced in June that it would conduct a National Online Dialogue on preventing and mitigating transit worker assaults.  

The dialogue will provide public transportation stakeholders and others an opportunity to help identify risks and impediments to a safe workplace and possible solutions to these assaults.

Using the information gathered from the dialogue, the FTA will develop a proposed rule to address assaults on bus and rail transit operators as required by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, also known as the FAST Act.  You can view proposed ideas online.

The SFMTA task force’s next steps include educating operators on ways to calm potentially dangerous situations and security strategies for attacks.

Whether they’re driving our buses, checking fares or keeping rush hour traffic flowing, we all rely on these everyday folks to keep San Francisco moving. Let’s make sure they can rely on San Francisco.