PSTA bus drivers concerned for their safety after Tampa driver's murder

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Bus drivers across the Tampa Bay area say they want safety to be a priority, sending a loud message to their bosses after a Tampa bus driver was killed by a passenger.

Dozens of bus drivers spoke at a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority meeting on Wednesday, demanding something be done. 

“I’ve never been afraid to go to work,” one driver told the board. “I’m afraid now. I want to go home. I want to retire."

The concerns come more than a week after HART bus driver Thomas Dunn was murdered while on the job, randomly stabbed by a passenger.

Five months before his death, Dunn had voiced fears over his safety to Hillsborough transit leaders after being assaulted. Dunn’s friend, Denny Crisoscomo, said his concerns were ignored. 

“He was the one pushing it because that was not the only issue he had,” Crisoscomo said. 

Even before Dunn’s death, Pinellas drivers and their union representatives have demanded PSTA leaders install protective glass barriers that separate drivers from passengers on the bus.

But PSTA board members say money is the issue: it would cost more than $1 million to fit the 210 PSTA buses with the security barriers.

The board responded by saying they are calling an emergency finance meeting to hopefully come up with the money.

One board member suggested installing the barriers before purchasing new buses. 

There have been 20 physical assaults to Pinellas drivers since 2016. Ten of those were reported in 2018 alone.