LOWER MAINLAND (NEWS1130) – The Coast Mountain Bus company says driver assaults are at the lowest levels they’ve been in about seven years, but the union says this is nothing to celebrate.

One hundred and sixteen workers were still hurt last year; the Canadian Autoworkers Union says that number is too high.

“Already this year, we have seen a significant number of assaults on our operators,” says Gavin Davies with the union. “Last week in Surrey, we saw two stabbings — one on-board a bus and one where the two passengers got off the bus and got into an altercation on a SkyTrain platform.”

Back in 2006, 242 drivers were assaulted.

“Anybody would be shocked to hear how many times our members are physically threatened, harassed behind the wheel… a number of these assaults were also sexual assaults on our female members,” points out Davies.

Since 2006 drivers have had access to emergency communications. Video cameras have also been installed on all new buses coming in to service.

But Peter Arkell, Assault and WorkSafe Prevention Specialist at the Coast Mountain Bus Company says he is encouraged by the recent jail sentences handed to people convicted in incidents in which a transit operator was assaulted.

“These latest figures speak well of the work done by CMBC and its union to improve safety for our transit operators. Our Violence in the Workplace Committee and Transit Security have made great strides in this area.”

He goes on to say “one assault is too many.”