HARRISBURG, Pa. - With dozens of incidents resulting in the injury or death of SEPTA operators, assaulting transportation authority workers is not considered an official offense…yet.
According to a press statement released Tuesday, a bill introduced by Senators Frank Farry (R-6) and Christine Tartaglione (D-2) to protect transit operators against assault was passed unanimously by the PA Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 977 would make it a crime to interfere with an operator of a bus or mass transit vehicle, classifying the offense as a felony of the third degree.
However, if a person committed an aggravated assault against an operator, the penalty would be a felony of the first degree.
There has been an increase in assaults, gun-violence and more disruptions of transit operators in Pennsylvania, specifically SEPTA operators, dating back to the start of the pandemic.
"Our hope is this legislation will not only help safeguard our transit operators so they can safely do their job, but protect passengers and other commuters on the roadway," said Farry. "The bill is named after U.S. Army veteran Bernard Gribbin – a SEPTA bus operator who was murdered while working on Oct. 12. Operators deserve our protection."
According to the press release, transit agencies and employees support the legislation as the bill is now heading to the Senate for consideration.