DDOT to be back on schedule Tues., changes to improve safety

DDOT to be back on schedule Tues., changes coming to improve safety

Posted: Updated:
DETROIT, Mich. (WJBK) -

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in a news conference Monday that he is making changes to improve safety onboard the city's buses, and that the system is expected to be running full-service on Tuesday.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 organized a rally Monday morning to protest recent attacks on bus drivers, including four that left drivers hospitalized in the past week.

Gilbert Hampton says he was just attacked Tuesday morning. "We get to the end of the line, he throws his [coffee] cup in my face and then he attacks me. This is actually my third time being assaulted. I just found out this morning that my wrist is broken," Hampton tells Fox 2's Amy Lange.

Transit workers gathered in front of downtown's Spirit of Detroit statue, chanting and holding signs. The rally comes as Detroit's public buses aren't running after unionized drivers called in sick amid contract negotiations and the planned rally.

Detroit's Chief Compliance Officer, Gary Brown, says the drivers are also angry after being asked to take an eight percent paycut. The union rejected that contract.

"Last week the drivers, by a margin of 3 - 1, turned down a contract that was offered, And, so, this strike is really as much about a labor issue as it is a safety issue," Brown says.

Yet drivers say their protest is all about safety.

"This has nothing to do with a contract. This is about two operators being stabbed the last weekend; over eight operators being hospitalized because this system can't run on time, and we're packing people in on these buses like sardines. They're mad; they're irrate; and they're taking it out on us," says Fred Westbrook of Amalgamated Transit Local.

VIDEO: Click on the video player above to hear more from bus operators

Brown, the police chief and the union met Monday afternoon to talk about new security measures.

Chief Craig says his officers have been randomly boarding buses for the last two weeks and no assaults have been reported on drivers or passengers. However, Craig says he is forming a special unit to specifically target bus safety.

Craig says plain-clothed officers will board the buses and eight security cameras will be installed on each bus, totaling about 1,000 cameras for the entire fleet. The city will also work on getting more buses for the fleet to reduce overcrowding which can lead to hostility.

The DDOT buses are expected to be running in full-service again come Tuesday.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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