Transit job not for the faint-hearted

They can be abused, spat at, punched or kicked but hundreds of people want to join the Public Transport Authority as transit officers.

Almost 600 people applied for the last recruitment intake but just 19 met the strict criteria, which includes fitness, literacy, numeracy and psychometric tests.

It costs about $30,000 to train and equip each guard and Transport Minister Dean Nalder said they were the best trained and resourced in Australia.

_The West Australian _was yesterday given an insight into the three-month process to prepare the officers for the often difficult scenarios they might face.

At the training centre in Guildford, recruits practised tactics to safely subdue aggressive or armed offenders and getting passengers off trains who resisted by grabbing on to rails.

Others were doing legal training, with WA the only Australian State where transit officers have the same powers as police to detain, charge and prosecute people for off-ences on public transport property.

Mr Nalder said the community should respect and support the transit officers employed to protect them. But too often they were verbally or physically abused.

PTA records showed there were 121 attacks on transit officers in 2013-14, an average of one every three days.

Recruits are warned about the risks and the potential of dealing with tragedies, such as people being hit by a train.

Former fitness instructor and personal trainer Emily has been a transit officer for about two years.

The 23-year-old believed the shifts would suit her lifestyle and enjoyed the job's variety and customer service aspects. "It has a lot of diversity," she said. "You're never doing the same thing every day."

She did not want to quit even after being assaulted this year and spending two months off with an injured neck and knee.

She said the PTA provided a lot of support to get her back on duty.


The West Australian

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