OTTAWA -- OC Transpo bus drivers are threatened, punched, pushed, spat on and sexually assaulted while on the job.

The Transit Service provided a breakdown on the dangers bus operators face daily on the job one week after the Transit Commission approved spending $6 million to install protective barriers at the driver's seat on buses. Staff say the permanent barriers on buses will protect drivers from possible assaults and COVID-19 transmission. 

In a memo to Council, Transportation Services General Manager John Manconi says approximately 28 per cent of all OC Transpo bus drivers were assaulted at some point over the last 10 years.

"Assaults on operators often result in lost time - time operators need to be away from work, due to injuries," writes Manconi.

Between 2016 and June 2020, 327 assaults involving an OC Transpo driver were reported to the transit service. The transit service says there were 90 assaults on bus operators in 2016, 120 assaults in 2017, 105 assaults in 2018, 87 assaults in 2019 and 33 between January and June of this year.

OC Transpo provided a breakdown on assaults on OC Transpo drivers over the past five years. Spat on was the number one assault reported, with 144 incidents between January 2016 and June 2020.


"The majority of assaults on bus operators occur while the operator is sitting in their seat. Bus operators are usually unable to withdraw from a potentially violent situation because they are sitting, operating their vehicle and do not have the opportunity to walk away," said Manconi.

"A permanent barrier physically separating the operator from customers can prevent an assault as it restricts an individual’s ability to make physical contact with the operator while in their seat."

Manconi says OC Transpo Special Constables work with Ottawa Police when a crime is committed.

OC Transpo reports between January 2016 and June 2020, 3,273 days of work were lost due to assaults on bus drivers. In 2019, 34 employees were absent from work for a period of 1,000 hours of combined lost time.

In June 2013, the Transit Commission approved new on-board video surveillance systems for buses.