If this is true, and I'm pretty sure my information is reliable, then it further proves that "Safety is Our Core Value" is pure bunk. Perhaps it's a value of management for management, but to us it's just a feel-good phrase that is anything but satisfying.
While we're told that if attacked we may use "reasonable self defense," this is a vague statement that makes us even more vulnerable to not only the public but to our management as well. For who is allowed to determine what is reasonable? It would be up to the operator under attack, in a logical world. But obviously, there's some definite illogical reasoning going on here.
We're also instructed to "remain in the seat." If we are attacked, our only way to get the word out is to hit our magic panic button, which immediately puts us in contact with Dispatch. In an emergency such as witnessing an injury, remaining seated allows us to radio vital information to be communicated with 911. It is in our nature, as public servants, to naturally reach out to help in any way possible. But it makes sense that the best way to do this is to provide as much information as quickly as we can so the proper assistance is sent to the scene.
When the injuries are being inflicted upon US, management seems to think it makes sense for us to reasonably defend ourselves from there. Leaving the seat is thought to be an aggressive move which can make matters worse. However, while in the seat we're extremely vulnerable and virtually unable to deploy any self defense tactics. We're facing forward, leaving our right side totally exposed. Our legs are in driving position, with the steering column preventing a possibly live-saving pivot. The time needed to turn and face our attacker is enough for them to stick a knife in us or land several punches in the most vital parts of our body. So unless we turn to our right or leave the seat, we're sitting ducks.
Being in a face-forward position also adds "reaction time" to the mix. At least we have our foot covering the brake at intersections, which can save lives if a motorist enters the vehicle's safety zone. In the seat, we cannot defend from a blind side thrust of a deadly weapon. When we're attacked, there is no reaction time, because our focus is on the road and everything around the bus. This multiplies our vulnerability 10 times over. Our own lives, in the event of an attack, are more at risk than the motoring public's. It's our instinct to stop and lock when confronted with any possible danger, around or inside the bus.
Once again, the term reasonable sticks out. Is it reasonable to expect us to calmly de-escalate a situation when our safety is threatened? Perhaps a trained hostage negotiator is able to do this. Someone with a gun to their head is thinking only of their loved ones.
A well-placed punch can be deadly. If we're being physically assaulted, isn't it reasonable to defend ourselves by any means possible? Beating the living crap out of our assailant is therefore reasonable self defense, because the alternative could be our own death. If management decides to punish an assault victim for fighting back, isn't it reasonable to assume that "Safety is Our Core Value" is simply a vague phrase meant only to protect itself? It is surely reasonable to believe that catchy, corporate-speak fantasy phrase defies all logic and reason when you're a transit operator. It may look good in print, but transit work is reality.
Lately our buses have a new message on the destination signs when we're deadheading, informing the public that the transit agency is hiring. On the back it reads "Join Our Family." I'm sorry, but if someone attacks MY family, they're due for an old-fashioned ass whupping. I'm not going to step in between the assailant and my loved one, stop the assault, then kick my own relation bloody and disown them. If I did that, it would be one helluva dysfunctional family. Many operators refuse to advertise the agency's doublespeak. It also confuses a public accustomed to seeing "Garage" on deadheading buses to make our vehicles rolling advertisements for their desperate plea to hire new operators. I've had many people berate me for not picking them up when I'm returning to base after a long shift. Just to see this phony message is enough to make me want to scream "I'M NOT YOUR FAMILY!" My family loves me, and would do anything to keep me safe.
Once again, I'm echoing Henry Beasley's call for a stop to insulting our operators who have been assaulted for daring to inflict any damage to our agency's protected and pampered violent passengers. We need to lobby the legislature to mandate jail time and PERMANENT EXCLUSION to anyone convicted of assaulting ANY transit employee. They should publicly shamed and aggressively prosecuted. The operators should be cared for, given paid time to recuperate both physically and spiritually while also provided with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder therapy. It's what an agency which is truly concerned about "Safety" would do.
It also wouldn't be a bad idea for upper management to take bus operator training and perform several weeks a year of in-service bus operation. Gee, I wonder if they'd feel different if their own well-being was threatened on the job as ours is every day?