For years, the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) would witness an assault against one of its bus operators every few months. However, as COVID-19 surged, such attacks became almost a monthly occurrence in 2020 as anti-social behavior took hold across America. The increase in assaults on such essential workers is not unique to public transportation and mirrors a national rise in violent crime since the start of the pandemic.
During the 2023 General Assembly session, lawmakers finally took note of this dangerous new normal and passed legal protections for bus operators. With a stroke of his veto pen, Gov. Glenn Youngkin also amended a bill that would have directed dollars towards bus electrification planning to instead fund safety improvements for public transit. With bus operators enshrined as a protected class and new funding for safety on the way, can Virginia turn the tide on assaults against these essential workers?