Detroit Department of Transportation employees plan to hold a rally Tuesday to advocate for better transit service, cleaner buses, restoration of 24-hour bus service and improved safety on the buses.
Fred Westbrook, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26, said the bus service is not adequate, buses do not always arrive on schedule and they are often packed with people.
Westbrook said riders sometimes take their frustrations out on the drivers -- sometimes violently. He said that in the past eight or nine months, eight drivers have been hospitalized with injuries sustained during assaults by passengers.
He said security is needed on the buses.
"We just need some protection," Westbrook said. "We're not going to continue to operate the buses under those circumstances. We can't do it."
Gary Brown, chief operations officer, said he is planning to meet this week with Detroit Police Chief James Craig and public transit security staff to discuss safety on the buses.
There have been several incidents of violence on buses recently.
Earlier this month, a woman accused a bus driver of slapping her -- a claim the union says the driver denies. And last month, a driver and a passenger got into a brawl on a DDOT bus. Westbrook said the passenger had gotten irate and spit on the driver.
Passengers said they are frustrated by the slow service and crowded buses. Nanette Brown, 30, who rides the bus, said passengers are sometimes "packed on there like sardines."
Westbrook said there will be a march from Campus Martius to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center as part of the rally, which he said will run 10 a.m.-noon.
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