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Robert Volkens bus driver

A 42-year-old bus driver was charged with misdemeanor assault on Tuesday after he punched a passenger who allegedly spat on him, the New York Daily News reports.

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The dispute reportedly began after 23-year-old Rudolph Alexander boarded the bus with an empty metro card. When the driver, Robert Volkens, asked him to get off the bus, he allegedly refused. Another passenger eventually paid Alexander’s fare. But when the bus stopped at Avenue H and Nostrand Ave., Alexander allegedly spat on the bus driver twice and got off.

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The driver reportedly followed him off the bus and punched him. Alexander was treated for minor injuries. Spitting on someone can lead to harassment charges but cops have to witness the act in order to make an arrest.

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Perhaps the most well-known dispute between a bus driver and a passenger took place in Cleveland in October. Shi’dea Lane boarded a city bus and allegedly did not have the fare to pay for her ride. The bus driver, Artis Hughes, reportedly asked Lane to leave but she refused, saying that she was looking for the fare in her purse. A heated argument ensued that ended with the driver uppercutting Lane after she allegedly spat on him. The incident was video-recorded via cell phone and went viral. Hughes was fired for his actions.

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In October, New York State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx) introduced legislation that would require all buses to have protective partitions for drivers. Currently, fewer than 15 percent of the MTA’s 4,600 fleet of local buses have shields, and only 662 buses have surveillance cameras.

This year alone, there have been at least 71 felony assaults against bus drivers in New York City.

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