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After Several Assaults DDOT Drivers Stage Work Stoppage Over Safety Concerns

(CBS DETROIT) – Passengers showing up to the Rosa Parks Terminal and other bus stops Friday only to find there are no buses running due to a worker stoppage and a labor dispute.

Like hundreds, Detroiter Keaya Wheele relies on the cities bus system for daily transportation. And like many, was surprised to find an empty terminal here at the Rosa Parks transit station Friday morning.

"Took me be surprise, didn't really have a plan B or C prepared for a situation like this and I actually can't believe this is even happening," Wheele said.

And what's happening is DDOT drivers staging a worker stoppage. Drivers refused to work on Friday, saying they don't feel safe. This comes after several altercations with passengers, mainly over the use of masks.

"You ask a person about putting on a mask there's all kind of verbal and physical assaults, and the spitting on," said DDOT Drivers Representative Glenn Tolbert.

Tolbert says a driver being fired Thursday after having an altercation with a passenger was the final straw in a months long battle between drivers' safety and the city. Tolbert says they need more support and protection from those in city government, because drivers are put in dangerous situations every day.

"I had a young lady who was accosted, guy pulled his groin out on her and that night tell her he's going to rape her the transit police comes, they give the guy a ticket and let him go," Tolbert said.

As of Friday afternoon, DDOT reps and the city were still trying to agree on a solution. Tolbert says drivers want to get back to work, but not at the expense of their safety.

"The last thing I want is to have to tell one of my drivers' family that they were critically harmed or something on that bus, and I didn't do anything to stop it," Tolbert said.

CW50's April Morton reached out to the mayor's office for comment, as of Friday afternoon there was no word.

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