News from Metro's General Manager

Metro responded quickly to altercation between driver, passenger

December 13, 2013

Today the news media are reporting on a serious altercation between a Metro bus driver and a passenger that occurred in November. I want to assure you that Metro responded quickly to this incident, placing the driver on leave, investigating thoroughly, and then terminating the driver's employment based on what we found.

The altercation occurred on Nov. 18. Video cameras on the bus recorded what happened: After the driver reached the end of his route, he told a passenger who remained in his seat to get off the bus. The passenger did not comply. Instead of calling for help, the driver yelled at the passenger, threatened him, and kicked his backpack off the bus, escalating the situation. As the passenger finally left, he spat on the driver, and the driver then followed the passenger off the bus and repeatedly struck him.

While the driver was in a challenging situation, and the experience of being spit upon is awful, it was clear from our investigation that the driver’s actions violated Metro procedures and our values. Metro drivers are expected to act professionally at all times and to avoid escalating conflicts and putting themselves and their passengers at risk.

The safety and security of the public and our employees is Metro's utmost concern. Metro condemns any assault by an operator, just as we condemn any assault on an operator.

After our review and disciplinary process was complete, we fired the driver on Dec. 4. Based on a parallel police investigation, the County Prosecutor's Office charged both the passenger and the driver with assault.

This driver's reprehensible actions were an aberration from the fine work Metro employees do every day. Our drivers often face difficult — and sometimes threatening — situations, and respond appropriately. Metro has active safety and security programs and a network of police officers, transit supervisors, and control center coordinators who are available to support our drivers at any time. Metro has a strong safety record as a result, and I assure you that we will continue to do everything we can to maintain a safe transit environment for our customers and our employees.

Sincerely,

Kevin Desmond, General Manager
King County Metro Transit

Kevin Desmond

General Manager, King County Metro Transit

Photo of General Manager, Kevin Desmond

If you live in King County, Metro is your public transit system. I want you to know about our performance, the issues we face, and the innovations we are bringing your way.

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