The union representing Darwin bus drivers is calling on the Gunner Government to urgently tackle security concerns across the bus network, saying “we can’t wait til somebody’s killed” after a horrifying assault on a bus driver at a Palmerston interchange which was not publicly reported by the NT Police.
Transport Workers Union (TWU) SA/NT branch secretary Ian Smith told Mix104.9 that on Monday at about 5am, a male passenger boarded the bus and allegedly started attacking the driver for unknown reasons behind the driver’s protection system.
The offender managed to break open the door on the system where he started punching the bus driver in the head, which placed the driver in a very “vulnerable position.”
“Luckily, there was some other bus drivers around at the time and came to his aid, and the offender ran off is my understanding,” Mr Smith said.
“The police were called. Our member went to us very badly bruised and shaken up and he’s still quite shaken, which is understandable, it’s a horrific event.
“Our concern – I’m not sure the police have followed it up yet,” Mr Smith added.
In a statement sent to Mix104.9, the NT Police acknowledged that they aware of the incident.
“It was reported just before 6am on that morning, and the alleged assault is being investigated but no arrests have been made yet,” the statement said. “And that man took himself to hospital.”
However, NT Police did not release a media report on the incident at the time, which underscores previous concerns of transparency in the police force’s executive and media unit and whether they are selectively reporting crimes.
Mr Smith added that Monday’s incident at the Palmerston interchange wasn’t the only recent case of assault against their members.
He said last month one of their drivers was involved in an alleged assault involving a knife.
“We’re still investigating, but members have reported it’s a pretty serious incident so I’m unaware of the actual full circumstances, but it was quite serious,” Mr Smith said.
The TWU urged the Gunner Government and NT Police to implement security measures quickly to protect not just bus drivers but also the traveling public.
He suggested increasing police and security guards in travel spots for longer periods, “so that we can stop this anti-social behavior.”
TWU drivers say antisocial behavior in the public transport system in the NT is out of control.
“We’ll have moments when it gets worse from time to time, we need to stamp it out, we need to, in multiple ways. It involves education, more policing. It involves making sure the perpetrators suffer consequences for what they do,” Mr Smith said.
“No one deserves to go to work and be punched in the head or hitting the arm and have your private space invaded, that’s the scary part.
“We can’t wait till somebody’s killed, whether that’s a passenger, that’s the driver, or even the perpetrator. We can’t wait for that to happen; we need to address that.”
“We’ve written to the government calling for some action and the first one will be this sit around the table and let’s get something in place to address the situation.”