Last week’s hijacking of a Los Angeles County MTA bus reinforces the SMART Transportation Division’s demands that bus and transit carriers from coast-to-coast speed up efforts to protect their workers.

“I would say everything is on the table right now,” SMART-TD Vice President James Sandoval told KTLA while discussing the incident. “We need to try every single thing we can to make it safer.”

Watch the story on KTLA

One of our union brothers was hurt in the March 21 incident, where he was held at gunpoint. The incident also led to at least one bystander being injured and the bus crashing into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel downtown. While he has been treated and released, our member’s experience has put him through physical and mental trauma. adds him to the list of recent victims of senseless violence while using our nation’s transit systems.

SMART-TD is closely monitoring the situation throughout the country and has formed a group to propose practical safety measures. The union will call for the adoption of their recommendations nationwide.

Learn about the BTAPS Committee, which leads union efforts to end assaults on the nation’s bus and transit workers

Read SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson’s reaction to the hijacking

On the night of Nov. 17, a member of the SMART Transportation Division employed by Los Angeles Metro was brutally assaulted while operating a bus in the West San Fernando Valley.

On Nov. 24, Los Angeles Metro and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department held a joint press conference at 1 Gateway Plaza in Los Angeles to ask for the public’s assistance in finding the individuals involved in this senseless attack.

SMART Transportation Division General Committee of Adjustment 875 (GCA 875) is also asking for the public’s assistance and the assistance of SMART’s membership.

“It is suspected that these individuals are frequent riders of the public transportation system and will reboard a Metro vehicle in the near future,” said GCA 875 General Chairperson James Williams. “If you see the individual pictured here, please don’t hesitate to report it to the authorities. These criminals must be found, they must be arrested and they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Also at the conference, Los Angeles Metro will be unveiling new programs to assist in the prevention of operator assaults. One initiative will be a pilot program to install a two-part barrier system to provide separation between operators and the public. This method of protection has been sought by this union for more than 15 years.

The SMART Transportation Division fully supports any initiative that promotes and furthers the safety and security of its members.

Earlier this month, the Federal Transit Agency (FTA) sent a letter to Los Angeles Metro informing them of new oversight rules and regulations for local transit agencies in regards to public and operator safety. SMART Transportation Division will be seeking inclusion in these pilot programs with the FTA to increase operator safety.

“These programs will bring the best practices, as well as federal dollars, to tackle the issue of operator safety,” Williams said. “In the past, operator safety has not been granted the appropriate level of attention that it deserves. It is the hope of SMART Transportation Division GCA 875 that new leadership at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, along with cooperation from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Transit Authority board of directors, will bring about new ideas and a sense of urgency to these very serious problems.”

SMART Transportation Division GCA 875 of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers represents more than 5,000 motor coach and light rail operators at LACMTA, also known as L.A. Metro.