RTA driver assaulted while trying to call for help

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CLEVELAND – Another driver for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) was assaulted while on the job.

The latest alleged assault followed a few other incidents where bus operators were targeted.

According to Transit Police, a 52-year-old was arrested after attacking the driver on Sunday in Public Square.

According to the police report, the suspect, Robert Melton, was being unruly on the bus.

The female driver got off the bus to call for help when Melton is accused of following her and assaulting her on the sidewalk.  She is recovering from minor injuries.

“We want our members to come to work, be able to be safe and go home to their families safe,” said William Nix from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 268.  “They should not have to come in fear and live in fear when they come to work and it’s not acceptable.”

Other recent attacks on RTA buses include one on a driver at the end of June.  A man was charged after holding a gun to the driver’s head and demanding her purse.

In another case, a different driver was attacked after asking someone to turn down their music.  The driver was struck several times by the suspect.

“That’s been going on too constantly so something really has to be done about that, maybe by putting police on the bus? That could be a good thing,” said Grant Gober from Cleveland.

The head of the union that represents 1,700 RTA employees said they are working with Transit Police on a plan to help ease any safety concerns for riders, including an increased police presence on some routes.

“Not only is it going to be safe for our drivers, it’s going to be safe for the passengers because now more visibility - going out there, trying to respond to a lot of where we haven’t targeted areas, where we continue to have problems to try to eliminate that,” said Nix.

The suspect in this most recent case, Robert Melton, has been arrested dozens of times before and many of those incidents also involve the RTA.

A spokesperson for the RTA said they have been working to find new ways protect operators and passengers.  They will be stationing a member of the Transit Police at both bus garages around-the-clock so they can have easier access to some routes.

Melton was arrested on assault, disrupting public service and disorderly conduct charges.

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