Metro drivers say shooting not isolated incident

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

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SEATTLE —

When a Metro bus driver was shot and wounded by a passenger two weeks ago, Metro called it an "isolated incident."

The transit agency also said that assaults on drivers have dropped dramatically, from more than 180 in 2008 to 107 last year.

Drivers said those numbers are wrong, largely because many crimes are going unreported.

Bus driver Karen Rispoli said, "We are told not to fill out reports and often we are targeted if we do." She said it's all politics because Metro doesn't want to look bad.

Rispoli said she was once shot at on the job. Last May Day, she was punched twice in one day.

Another driver, Vern Cavin, said he's been assaulted five times in the last three years. He said someone once tried to throw a pop can at him.

Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond denied that his drivers are being discouraged from reporting assaults, saying the security incident reports are an "absolute vital piece of information" for Metro to make the system safer.

He maintains the number of assaults are down, thanks to beefed up security from Transit Police and better training for drivers in tactics like deescalating conflicts with passengers.

Update: Click here to watch public comment to the King County Council about Metro driver safety.

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