A driver’s plea

Transport Board worker appeals for greater protection from passengers

After suffering a brutal attack at the hands of a student two months ago, bus driver Anthonio Rowe is calling on the Transport Board to make greater efforts to protect its operators.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY Wednesday morning, the 21-year veteran contended that the Transport Board needed to move beyond cameras on their buses and put up protective barriers for operators, who can be easy targets for the sometimes frustrated commuters.

“They put cameras in the bus and they [passengers] still vandalizing the bus, so it seems like they forget or don’t care that the cameras are there. There are no signs letting the travelling public know that cameras are on
the buses.”

An emotional Anthonio Rowe recounting the harrowing details of his attack last October. He also produced several documents, including the incident report lodged with the Transport Board.

“We have been asking for the cages for years. The small Hinos [make of the bus] have a door and I guess you can’t put a cage because the engine is in the way. However, the big buses can get a cage because it has no engine covers, just a fare box. You need to find a way to get it done. How come in other countries they could get it done? Do you know how much people does stand up behind a bus driver? One of them could easily come up and stab that driver,” Rowe stated.

The experienced driver recounted the harrowing experience, which took place at Oistin’s Hill, Christ Church last October. He revealed that in an unprovoked attack, the male student struck him on the head and hand with a stick, causing lacerations to his head.

“When I was going down the hill the bell rang again. I stopped opposite the bus pole that is on my right hand, which is to Silver Hill side, and I opened the back door only. While my hands were on the steering  . . . I looked in the rear view mirror and saw this guy from all in the back walking towards me . . . . Next minute I felt this lash on the top of my head. For some reason my left hand happen to go up to my head [in a defensive position] and block the other lash, which means I would have had two cuts in my head,” Rowe recalled.

He contended that the incident could have easily escalated into a mass casualty situation, had he not have the presence of mind to engage the handbrake, ensuring that the bus, filled with students, did not roll down the hill.

“At that time I didn’t even put the handbrake yet. Now look at the danger of all this. Suppose I had slipped into a little bit of unconsciousness? Even a policeman said that the bus would have gone straight down Oistin’s Hill with the rest of those school children on the bus,” he said.

However, even after the physical scars have healed, Rowe continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress and anxiety attacks, which is taking a toll on his life and career. He explained that even the sight of a passenger approaching the driver’s door from the back can trigger such an attack, and he now fears that he may have to consider giving up the job that he loves.

“I am not really settled as yet because I went back out to work and I picked up a young lady in Six Roads . . . . She stopped to get off at Springer Memorial School but she rang the bell late so I stopped at the bus stop lower down and when I pulled into the lay-by, the next minute she right alongside me and that triggered me off [anxiety attack]. I got frightened, that jumped me when she ended up right alongside me. The next day my wife was able to witnessed it for the first time as I got a second anxiety attack when I was about to go to work,” an emotional Rowe stated.

“I can’t be behind a steering wheel and that is happening. Suppose I am in motion and that is coming on? It is a very damn frightening feeling. My counsellor said that is not going to go away just like that because it was not an expected incident. So I need to maybe come off the road for a while. I don’t want to stop driving because I love the idea of driving bus, but I may have to do that; even the counsellor is saying the same thing. So that is something I may now need to discuss with them [Transport Board],” he added.

colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

15 Responses to A driver’s plea

  1. Ricardo Bascombe
    Ricardo Bascombe January 12, 2017 at 12:27 am

    No need to publish that cameras are on the buses,if you’re seen vandalizing then you will be dealt with

    Reply
  2. Patrina Drakes
    Patrina Drakes January 12, 2017 at 1:29 am

    He looks the driver that from arch hall that had to be move out of the H2 route because of the unnecessary hard feelings he used to cause. Like one of the routes my side was for a long time, few houses and lots of open areas but it got develop gradually but not evey crop up of homes had stops once he carried wokers wanting to get off in bakerwood past black bess because they tell him that he past their stop. Yes it didn’t have the stop as yet as it was newly being devolop but other drivers had let them off there before, he drive past in the rain mind you those men had to walk back with bags of tools in the rain. Or if he see you not by the bus stop even if you trying to get to said bus stop refusing to stop. Even saw him left school children in Morgan cause the bus stop was not visible but the location was known . He like he use to enjoy doing those kind of things. He got so much complaints then thankfully he was move out of Princes Alice.

    Reply
  3. Harry January 12, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Patrina, that if true doesn’t justify for the driver to be attacked.

    Reply
    • harry turnover January 12, 2017 at 7:43 am

      Agree Harry,but some of those drivers behave as though the buses belong to them.
      Yesterday I witnessed an incident where a bus driver was telling school children about to enter a bus AT A BUS STOP ..” girls fiirst,boys in long pants second and LITTLE BOYS IN SHORT PANTS LAST ….ONLY because 3 little boys tried to board a bus WITH THE FRONT DOOR OPENED that had stopped about 25 yds from the bus stop because of ahead traffic.
      Yes he rightfully told them NOT TO BOARD there BUT they went back to the BUS STOP and he told them that they ALONG WITH OTHER BOYS IN SHORT PANTS who were waiting AT THE BUS STOP PATIENTLY that they would be the LAST to enter…
      He even DROVE the bus about 5 yds away from where he had ORIGINALLY STOPPED at the BUS STOP with the door STILL opened when he saw the little boys up front ABOUT TO ENTER.

      Reply
  4. The Negrocrat January 12, 2017 at 6:52 am

    It does not justify but the attack, but it makes him for liable to be attacked.
    You gotta know how to deal with people.

    Reply
  5. harry turnover January 12, 2017 at 7:46 am

    ” Only because 3 little boys had tried THE bus….”

    Reply
  6. Biscuits January 12, 2017 at 8:59 am

    The driver is lamenting what would have happened had he lost consciousness and was unable to use the handbrake at that time. However, I wonder if he realises that by stopping where he did, (atop the hill outside the designated area) he too would have compromised the safety of those students. Fortunately no lives were lost.
    Hopefully he will make a full recovery in time and the relevant authorities will consider his suggestions to ensure the safety of all bus drivers.

    Reply
  7. kathy-Ann Clarke January 12, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Stupes, some of them does really feel as though the buses belong to them. They does want to choose who should ride with them.

    Reply
  8. Sharon Howell January 12, 2017 at 9:44 am

    It is with regret that I learn of the plight of the driver. Although some drivers can be unreasonable, it still does not justify any acts of voilence against another human being, particularly as he said: if true “unprovoked”. I have suffered post tramatic trauma as a result of a rear end accident and I experienced panic attacks when driving and I glance into the rear view mirror and see a vehicle which appeared to be driving too quickly behind me.

    I empathize with the bus driver and I urge all my fellow citizens to respect each other and always be cognisant of the golden rule. “Do unto others and you would have them to do unto you!”

    Reply
  9. Alana B January 12, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Good morning. Let me add my piece here please. All employees has a right to be safe while carrying out their lawful duties and responsibilities. There are some minor additions that can be put in place for the comfort, safety and security of all persons. Signs telling passengers that they are to stand behind a designated line is an example (safe distance from doorways and the drivers). Another is to place a metal barrier high enough behind the driver with a window made out of a material that is less likely to be penetrated by force (drivers would not have to be concerned about being attacked from behind but still be able to view the rear of the vehicle). Signs posted reminding the travelling public that obscene language, loud speaking, and disrespect would not be tolerated and one may be put off the bus. It may be possible to also state that persons using devices should use them with headphones so as not to disturb the driver now other passengers (Loud noises has the ability to distract the drivers from concentrating on the road). Marshalls can be hired for buses that travel long routes throughout the island. They would have powers of arrest. Finally, to answer the question as to whether some drivers believe the bus belong to them. That answer is yes. They should think so, since, they are the custodian of the bus and has a responsibility that goes with being in possession of it. All drivers better remember that even though some passengers may signal for the bus to stop late, it is your duty to stop ONLY at the designated bust stop please. If something were to happen to a passenger if you fail in your duty, you may very well face disciplinary action. Bless

    Reply
  10. Margot Bourne January 12, 2017 at 10:21 am

    May God watch over you and protect you

    Reply
  11. Lynda S. January 12, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I totaly and completely agree with the statements made by Alana B. Barbados has one of the best public transport systems to be found anywhere in the world. I have had the opportunity to travel on buses in other countries (and some neighbours) and I must say I am still not sure how there are not more major fatalities involving buses in those places. We have excellent drivers BUT I have found that in recent years Bajans have lost all respect for themselves and for others. I have been on our buses in the afternoon after school is out. Sadly our youth have gone beserk and I challenge anyone to ride on our ‘school’ buses when they are crammed full of children. The behavior is unruly, very disrespectful and appalling and if I was a transport board driver I would refuse to drive those routes. Their lives are actually in the hands of those youth. God help us all.

    Reply
  12. Joy January 12, 2017 at 11:28 am

    It is illegal to stop other than at a bus stop. If more bus stops are needed then lobby for them or go through the process to have them put in. Don’t get angry at a driver for abiding by the law.

    Reply
  13. harry turnover January 12, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Bus drivers do not have the AUTHORITY to tell ANYBODY who should board first or last AT A BUS STOP like that driver did with those School children.
    As I said above he was right not to have let them come aboard other than at a bus stop BUT as long as the boys WENT BACK to the bus stop …who at front should have been allowed in.

    Reply
  14. jrsmith January 12, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    This student is a villain a criminal ,even many animals dont attack like this, if this student was in the US and the driver had a gun he would have been shot dead and deserving so….this was black on black if this driver was a white man he would have never been attack he wouldn’t dare …..

    Reply

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