5 Oct 2017

Bus drivers union calls for defence training

8:06 pm on 5 October 2017

A stabbing attack on a bus driver in Auckland has highlighted the need for better security, including cameras and driver cages, the bus drivers' union says.

A bus on Auckland's Queen Street

The bus drivers' union is recommending all buses have security cameras installed. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The driver was rushed to Middlemore Hospital with critical injuries to his stomach and neck after the stabbing on Browns Road in Manurewa last night.

The Crime Prevention Group, an organisation against crime in Auckland, said there were also other passengers on the Murphy-operated bus when the driver was attacked.

Its president Sunny Kaushal said the driver has not been well enough to talk to family members, and meanwhile his community was in shock.

"This is a very traumatic and very serious incident for the family and friends and for the whole community," Mr Kaushal said.

"There shouldn't be any place for these kind of crimes [in our] society."

The driver is now in a stable condition in the high-dependency unit at the hospital but Mr Kaushal said family members still could not believe this had happened.

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Photo: RNZ

The bus co-ordinator for First Union, Rudd Hughes, said bus drivers were concerned about their safety.

He said a health and safety survey by the union earlier this year found drivers felt verbal and physical assaults had been increasing.

Mr Hughes said the survey recommended that security cameras be installed in all buses.

"We know that in the taxi industry, where cameras have been introduced, assaults on drivers has gone down," he said.

"That would be a pretty simple solution [and] it wouldn't be overly costly to the companies."

The bus that the driver was stabbed in did have a CCTV camera, and Auckland Transport said that footage had been provided to police.

About 50 percent of buses operating for Auckland Transport have security cameras installed, although 100 percent should have them by September next year.

Mr Hughes said that was not good enough and something needed to be done now.

He was also calling for extra safety measures to be put in place, such as cages.

Auckland bus sign

Photo: 123RF

But the vice-president of the Bus and Coach Association, Sheryll Otway, does not believe that cages should be installed.

She said wider safety measures that protect drivers as well as passengers should be considered.

"You've got to make sure that you're not just making your driver safe, you're making sure that everybody that has boarded your bus [is safe]," she said.

"You have a responsibility to make sure they're safe too."

Ms Otway said the Bus and Coach Association was currently holding its annual conference with bus operators across the country and safety for passengers and drivers would be a top discussion point.

She said bus drivers needed training about how to respond to attacks, something the police could be involved in.

"I think it's really important for the police to engage," she said.

"They're the ones who can tell us what's happening out there, what new things are appearing, what the statistics are like and what we should be looking for."

A 15-year-old teenager appeared in the Manukau Youth Court today, charged with being armed with a pocket knife, intent to cause grievous bodily harm and wounding the bus driver.

The young man has been remanded in custody and will reappear in court later this month.