NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — A bus driver’s terrifying experience is prompting the Amalgamated Transit Unit (ATU) to call on the Southeast Area Transit (SEAT) District to do more to protect drivers from physical violence and verbal assaults — things the ATU says is happening across the country.
At 8 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2022, Rose Dawson stepped off her bus at the Water Street stop in New London to get a breath of fresh air. She came face to face with a man who had just come from the train station.
“I was like, oh my god, I could have died,” Dawson told News 8. “[He was] either on something or there were some mental health issues. I’m not sure.”
It soon became very clear she could be in trouble.
“When I looked down, it was very jagged. It was a knife, and he was holding it up to my throat, saying that he was going to kill me, that I was gonna die, and that he had killed all the people,” Dawson said.
Most of the passengers that News 8 spoke with said that they hadn’t seen any violence on the buses but had seen some loud or obnoxious riders.
One woman News 8 talked with on Tuesday said she heard another passenger scream at a bus driver.
“She had a fit because she was on crutches, but she wanted him to stop in the middle of an intersection, and he said, ‘I can’t do that,’” passenger Shaine Vincent of New London said.
The general manager for SEAT said safety protocols are in place, like barriers to protect drivers, but its safety committee will be looking to see if more needs to be done.
Dawson would like to see something like police patrols at the New London and Norwich stops at night. SEAT does not have a security team to do that.
“I won’t get off my bus,” Dawson said.
Lately, however, bus drivers have faced bad behavior and violence, and the union wants the bus company to do something about it.
The man who is suspected of threatening Dawson was quickly arrested and has been banned from SEAT buses for life.