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Union rallies for beaten bus driver – QNS.com

Union rallies for beaten bus driver

MTA bus driver Henry Ye, 44, said his bus, the Q 53, was more crowded than usual on Sunday, February 4, the day he was allegedly beaten by an angry passenger. The attack happened when Ye stopped at the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue to pick up riders.
Anthony Rodriguez got on the bus and flashed an army ID, allegedly expecting to ride free.
“If someone can’t pay we can let them on once, but this man had gotten free rides already and I told him I couldn’t do it again because I would lose my job,” said Ye. “He got very angry.”
Although Ye said it is not his place to question someone’s identification, an army card does not entitle passengers to free travel.
“Only court and corrections officers and auxiliary police who are in uniform and badge with their ID showing can ride for free,” said Deirdre Parker, spokesperson for New York City Transit. “NYPD and fire marshals in or out of uniform with shield showing and uniformed FDNY with badge visible can also ride gratis.”
According to Parker, army identification does not allow passengers to skip paying their fares.
When Rodriguez was told to pay, he allegedly became violent and attacked Ye, who said he covered his face with his hands.
Rodriguez, enraged, allegedly pulled Ye’s hands away and started to pummel his face with a closed fist.
Ye, who is married with two children, sustained wounds to his eye and chin and is still recovering from an infection caused by the attacker’s dirty nails and which he said would leave a permanent scar.
Members of the Transit Workers Union Local 100 stood vigil outside the Queens Criminal Court on Tuesday, February 20 to demand the maximum sentence for Rodriguez, 40, who is charged with assault and theft of services and faces a possible seven-year sentence.
Ed Watt, Secretary Treasurer of the union, said that he wanted to send a message that it was not open season on bus drivers.
“Drivers protect the public and while 99 percent of passengers are well behaved, the public needs to understand that every day our drivers face the threat of assault,” he said. “A harsh sentence will let people know they are mistaken to think they can do this.”
Ye, who lives in Brooklyn, hasn’t returned to work yet, but has been talking to his union and the MTA about what to do in the future when unruly passengers cause trouble. “I was never scared before this happened,” said Ye, who came from China 10 years ago and drove a school bus for three years before joining the MTA two years ago.
There were 161 assaults on bus drivers in 2004, the last year figures are available. The case has been adjourned until March 6.

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