SINGAPORE — An SBS Transit bus captain was physically and verbally assaulted on Tuesday (15 September) afternoon by a commuter after telling him to put on his mask during his journey, the latest in a string of such incidents, said the public transport operator.
“What happened yesterday is unfortunately not an incident in isolation. Several of our bus captains have been abused in the last few months on account of enforcing the strict mask-up rule,” said SBS Transit in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
“This is repugnant. And this must stop.”
The 12-minute assault, which happened at about 2.45pm on Tuesday, involved a male commuter who boarded Service 21 along Pasir Ris Drive 6, said SBS Transit. The man had boarded without a mask and only put it on after.
“He then started to hurl vulgarities at our bus captain and this continued all the way for two more bus stops,” SBS Transit added.
The 39-year-old male bus captain later halted at a bus stop in front of Block 210 Pasir Ris Drive 1 while waiting for the police, who had been alerted to the incident, to arrive.
While the vehicle remained stationary, the man “grabbed the bus captain's neck and collar, holding on for more than a minute” and refused to let go despite pleas from the latter.
The man started punching the bus captain repeatedly on the head while the latter cowered “with his arms shielding his face”, SBS Transit said.
“It was here that three young men who were at the bus stop rushed up the bus and tackled the assailant, dragging him out of the bus to the bus stop,” it added.
The men pinned the assailant to the ground shortly before the police arrived to arrest him, said SBS Transit.
The company added that the bus captain had sought medical treatment at Changi General Hospital and has been given three days of medical leave.
“We are thankful that he did not sustain any serious injuries. He is shaken but remains in good spirits,” said SBS Transit.
“We are especially grateful to the three Good Samaritans who gallantly stepped forward to help our bus captain. We would like to get in touch with them and would be grateful if they can contact us through our hotline at 1800-2872727 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
In response to media queries, the police said a 52-year-old individual was arrested for possession of offensive weapon and voluntarily causing hurt.
Police investigations are ongoing.
Tammy Tan, SBS Transit’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, said the company has had close to 40 cases of public bus transport workers being assaulted this year, more than the 33 cases in 2019. Of the numbers to date, mask-related assaults accounted for about half, Tan added.
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