LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — After several high-profile incidents on buses, including a murder and several stabbings, drivers across the Las Vegas valley are pleading for a transit police department as some say they would not even ride on the vehicles they operate.
Dozens of drivers, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1637 attended the Regional Transportation Committee’s Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday.
“I’m hoping that they’re going to get security for us, better security to protect us when we’re out there,” Sandra Adams, vice president of the union, said. “Right now, we have nothing.”
More than 1,000 union members work for Keolis and MV Transportation, which RTC contracts to provide bus service, Adams said.
“If you were a person who needed to take the bus would you feel safe?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Adams.
“No, I definitely would not. I would Uber,” she said.
In late April, a man stabbed a bus supervisor in the chest, police said. In February, a 30-year-old man died after his accused killer stabbed him more than 30 times on the bus.
“Given the fact that my colleague got stabbed three weeks ago and is still not out of trouble is just unacceptable,” bus supervisor Marvetta Toler said.
Local police responded to more than 2,000 incidents – six responses per day – or one every four hours — on RTC buses last year, RTC Deputy CEO Francis Julien said.
“One incident is one too many and just like all the other transit agencies in the U.S., we’ve seen a spike in incidents, we’re basically a microcosm of what’s happening in the community,” Julien told the 8 News Now Investigators.
“Are these buses safe?” Charns asked.
“We provided 41 million rides last year,” Julien said. “When you look at the number of incidents versus the rides, buses are quite safe.”
Julien told the board RTC is adding 33 more security officers as part of an updated contract. He also told the board the number of rovers – officers who are mobile – will double to about 16.
RTC is also piloting a panic button program, which allows drivers to call for help from a device in their pockets. RTC buses have driver panic buttons, but several drivers told the 8 News Now Investigators that they are unreliable.
“We’re simply telling you, not one more,” organizer Stanley Small told the board.
Board members said state law prevents them from starting a transit police department and doing so would require legislative intervention. Board members, including Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, said they understood the concerns but directed the transit police action to Carson City.
“If the statutes say you can’t have transit police, come on now, you guys are in this, you understand it can be amended, revised,” Small said. “It can catch up with the time.”
It is unclear whether any action could happen in Carson City with weeks left in this legislative session.
8 News Now asked Gov. Joe Lombardo’s office for comment on possible action and did not receive a response Thursday.