For the second time in less than a month, a NICE bus driver was punched in the face by an irate passenger aboard the N6 line in Franklin Square, Nassau County police said.
According to the 4th Squad, a 50-year-old male driver was assaulted while at the wheel of an eastbound bus on Hempstead Turnpike last Sunday at 6:30 p.m. A male passenger approached the driver and caused what police said was a “disturbance,” claiming that the driver had missed his stop. The driver stopped the bus at the corner of Hempstead and Franklin Avenue, and the suspect sat back down.
As the driver continued east, however, the passenger began disturbing him once again, police said, and when the driver stopped the bus again — this time at Claflin Boulevard — the passenger punched him in the face, lacerating his lip, before getting off the bus and fleeing westbound on Hempstead Turnpike. The suspect, who has not been caught, was described as a black man between 35 and 40, approximately 6 feet 3, who was wearing a gray jacket and blue pants.
On Feb. 24, according to police, Ivey Dixon, 27, of Hempstead, repeatedly punched driver Keisha McGregor, 38, after claiming that McGregor missed her stop. After the assault, which other passengers captured on their cell phones, Dixon left the bus, fleeing east on Hempstead Turnpike with her 3-year-old daughter. She was arrested two days later, after police received an anonymous tip, and pleaded not guilty to felony second-degree assault in 1st District Court in Hempstead.
“NICE is concerned for the safety of its operators,” Andy Kraus, a spokesman for the bus service, wrote in an emailed statement. “We are examining ways to protect them from violent passengers. We want to have the safest working environment possible. Physical contact of this kind has been rare. NICE has averaged one to two bus driver assaults a year since January 2012. Obviously, two assaults in a month is way too many.”
Kraus added that plans are in place to enhance drivers’ safety. “NICE is reviewing the feasibility of installing partitions on buses to protect drivers,” he wrote. “Forty-five new buses on order will have cameras as a deterrent and to record events. A new onboard electronic system coming next year will have additional safety features. NICE will also be training drivers with strategies for defusing tense situations on buses.”
Police ask that anyone with information about the latest attack call Crime Stoppers at (800)-244-TIPS.