DASH bus driver was pushed, punched by passenger, video shows

Two women, one in a reflective vest, grasp arms in a fight outside a green bus.
A woman pulled a DASH bus driver from her seat and the fight spilled onto the sidewalk Sunday. (OnScene.TV)

A female Los Angeles city bus driver was attacked by a woman trying to ride DASH on Sunday — just two days after hundreds of Metro bus drivers staged a sick-out protesting safety concerns.

In a video captured by OnScene.TV, the driver can be heard telling the passenger to get out of the bus as the woman reaches over a protective barrier. The driver swings open the barrier door and shoves her off, before the two spill into the street — near LAPD's Newton Division — on Central Avenue at Jefferson Boulevard.

The scuffle happened around midday, according to Los Angeles police. Video shows the passenger pushing and punching the bus driver, who defends herself — at one point kicking the woman in an apparent attempt to get her to back off.

The encounter did not appear to last for more than a minute, and the driver was treated at the scene, police said. But it underscored the challenges facing bus drivers and transit agencies.

Bus drivers across the county have been dealing with increasing hostility from passengers. Assaults on transit workers have tripled over the last 15 years, according to research from the Urban Institute. Between 2008 and 2022 federal data show the number of assaults resulting in deaths or medical transport rose to 492 from 168 nationwide.

Although Metro drivers have faced several high-profile assaults in recent months, the DASH system, which is operated by the city in 27 communities including downtown Los Angeles, has largely stayed out of the spotlight.

The woman was arrested but not yet booked as of 10:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Read more: Man accused of killing woman on L.A. subway is linked to earlier violence on Metro train

The DASH bus service feeds into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's bus and train network, where operators say they are worried about being targets. Earlier this year, a Metro bus driver was hijacked by a person carrying an airsoft gun, then another was stabbed as passengers watched.

The recent fatal stabbing of a security guard returning from her night shift on a Metro subway has spurred the Metro board to consider facial recognition technology and fare gates to help prevent similar attacks.

But unionized Metro train and bus operators have criticized Metro for failing to respond quickly and forcefully enough to violence on the system.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.