Bus driver maced by passenger expected to return to work todayby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A Metro Transit bus driver who was assaulted with pepper spray by a passenger last week is expected to return to work today.
The incident happened shortly after 9 p.m. Friday on a southbound Route 62 bus in St. Paul, according to Metro Transit Spokesman Bob Gibbons.
A teenage girl had wanted to get off the bus at a location that was not a bus stop, and the driver proceeded to the next available stop near Rice St. and Maryland Ave., Gibbons said.
When the driver stopped the bus to let her off, she discharged a "chemical spray at him," Gibbons said.
Transit police are reviewing the on-bus video and will interview the driver to get a better description of the girl, who has not yet been identified.
If identified and arrested, the girl could face possible felony charges, Gibbons said.
"Things that might be a misdemeanor if they happened on a street corner, like slapping someone, could easily be a felony against a bus operator, against his or her duties," Gibbons said.
The driver was treated at the scene and did not need to be hospitalized. He visited his family physician on Monday and is expected to return to work today, Gibbons said.
The incident was the first time a Metro Transit bus driver has been sprayed with a chemical spray, officials said.
In all, Metro Transit officials registered 31 driver assaults in 2007, 19 in 2008, and 9 in the first six months of this year, Gibbons said.
"The trend line is fairly positive in the area of driver assaults, recognizing that one driver assault is one to many," Gibbons said.