Next stop, asphalt?
It's not uncommon for altercations to occur during commuting. After all, few parts of our daily life are more unpleasant. But rare is the instance when a transportation employee is the one starting the fighting, and not the other way around. Or in this case, the one throwing someone off the bus.
A video capturing the incident shows the DC bus driver as the aggressor in a weekend incident. The driver confronted a commuter who was trying to board the bus.
"Get off the bus, get off the bus," says the driver in the video posted to the website iTube. "I ain't done nothing to nobody or nothing," the passenger replies.
The anonymous video was thought to have been posted over Labor Day weekend, and has become the great caper of Capitol Hill. According to local news outlets, the WMATA (Washington Metro Area Transit Authority) is taking the mysterious video seriously.
"Completely unacceptable," writes WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel in an email to local news outlet WTOP. WMATA is also launching an investigation into the incident.
"We're trying to get in touch with the person who posted the video to get some key facts to help us advance the investigation," says Stessel. "For example, with the route number, date and time, we can pull on-board cameras and positively ID the operator."
As local blog DCist points out, there's every reason to believe the altercation was not staged. The uniform appears to be legit, and signs showing the DC neighborhood "Friendship Heights" are visible. And so Stessel is "99 percent" sure the driver in question is in fact a Metro employee.
While no one is going to excuse an unprovoked attack, D.C. drivers do have every reason to be on guard. According to the D.C. transportation news outlet TBD.com, there were 90 assaults on city bus drivers in 2010 -- up from 71 in 2009. Those run-ins accounted for 32 percent of all assaults on the city's transportation system.
Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn told TBD that in 32 of those attacks, drivers were either "struck, punched, slapped or grabbed." In another 20, people were caught throwing rocks at the windshield. The last 20 saw drivers threatened by riders.
In this instance, WMATA is aware of the difficulty in proving guilt. "It's a grainy photo, and in a hearing, someone could argue 'that wasn't me,' " said Stessel, according to DCist. Still it is asking anyone who has any information to contact WMATA here.