RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It may become a crime to attack a bus driver in the state of Virginia, thanks to a new bill that passed in the House of Delegates this week.
On Friday, Feb. 24, the Virginia House of Delegates voted to pass House Bill 2330. Under this bill, physically assaulting a public transit operator would become a Class 1 misdemeanor. Anyone who does so could serve no more than 12 months in jail, or pay a fine of no more than $2,500.
This bill would make public transit operators a protected class in Virginia, alongside health care providers, teachers and first responders.
According to Del. Delores L. McQuinn, she introduced the bill in January after hearing concerning stories about public transit operators being assaulted. Such assaults have been especially prevalent in Richmond, with several recent acts of violence against Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) drivers.
In October of 2022, 24-year-old Dexter Superville, Jr. assaulted a GRTC driver, knocking the driver to the ground and kicking him in the head. Superville was later arrested for assault in connection to the incident.
This is just one of several attacks on bus operators last year. GRTC reported 37 verbal and physical attacks on GRTC operators in 2022.
“This is a tremendous victory for the public transit operators in the Commonwealth of Virginia,
and I eagerly anticipate the Governor signing this bipartisan legislation,” McQuinn said. “It will have a significant impact on safeguarding our essential workers.”
Following the increase in attacks on operators, Organizational Advancement Manager Ashley Mason told 8News in January that GRTC was planning to install real-time surveillance cameras and public viewing monitors on buses to provide increased security.
“Our operators are not only frontline employees; they are essential employees,” Sheryl Adams, CEO of Greater Richmond Transit Company, said. “With ridership of local bus routes exceeding pre-pandemic levels, we must continue to improve our employees’ quality of life.”