Upham's Corner Online

Stopping Bad Behavior on the 15 Bus

Posted: April 24, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

On Monday afternoon April 11, the loud hum of helicopters overhead in Upham's Corner was a clear indication that something was amiss.  News reports picked up the story and talked about a "bad accident at Blue Hill and Hampton."MBTA Bus Crash 4/11/2011

Close to the scene of the accident, the area was packed with cruisers, news vans, emergency vehicles and police managing the emergency work on Dudley Street.  By this time the one teenager with his foot pinned under the bus had been freed.  The bus was still parked adjacent to where it had crashed and yellow caution tape reminded the gathering crowds to stay back.  

What happened on the #15 MBTA bus heading from Dudley Station towards Blue Hill Ave? The story goes like this. 

Around 3pm someone was smoking on the bus and the driver asked him to stop.  That led to several other people in the bus attacking the bus driver who lost control of the bus and crashed into 385 Dudley St. in Dorchester. At that point, the attackers attempted to escape but one got his foot pinned under the bus.

Three men have been arrested and charged in connection with the assault.  

Felix Garcia, 18, and Michael Baptista, 19, both of Roxbury, were arraigned at Roxbury District Court on April 14.  Garcia, already on probation, was ordered held while Baptista was released on his own recognizance.  They both pleaded not guilty to charges of interfering with a bus driver and assault and battery on a public employee.

Brian Donovan, 19, a Dedham resident, turned himself in to MBTA police headquarters in Boston on April 22.  He is charged with assault and battery on a public employee and wrongful interference with the operation of a vehicle carrying passengers for hire. The interference charge is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Brian Donovan is reportedly the "smoker" on the bus and Felix Garcia, the youth who had his foot pinned under the bus.  He was seen "high-fiving people" and yelling about having a free T pass for life.

The bus driver identified as number 2157 had notified the bus operations control center that he had been assaulted and was knocked out.  He said he got his head smashed into the window.  The way he saw it, about 10 kids had jumped him.

There were multiple calls to 911 from people on the bus reporting that kids were smoking on the bus and that the driver was being assaulted.
Are the buses safe to ride?  Is the #15 bus safe to ride?  

Another passenger reported a different incident on the #15.  An out-of-control and very scruffy guy was talking trash and swearing abusively towards the back of the bus.  The driver, a young and diminutive woman, stopped the bus, walked to the back and told the passenger in no uncertain terms to stop.  He did, even apologized.

What if the outcome from this confrontation had led to an even more dangerous situation on the bus, for both passengers and driver?  

What is the role of the bus driver in these circumstances?  S/he cannot allow disruptions to affect other passengers.  Confronting a passenger is tantamount to playing "police officer" while still having to drive the bus with your back turned.

As we imagine the incident on April 11, the bus driver returned to his seat and proceeded to drive the bus.  With his back turned, the criminal element moved forward and attacked.

Let's imagine a different approach.  Each time there is a problem, the bus driver pulls over and calls for assistance.  If enough such incidents occur, nobody will ever get home but people might begin to understand that there are consequences for their behavior.

MBTA Bus Crash 4/11/2011 MBTA Bus Crash 4/11/2011
MBTA Bus Crash 4/11/2011 MBTA Bus Crash 4/11/2011
MBTA Bus Crash 4/11/2011 MBTA Bus Crash 4/11/2011

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