A BRISBANE bus driver is back on the job after a terrifying ride with an erratic passenger that ended after he activated a help sign on the front of his vehicle.
The driver has undergone counselling after the agitated man allegedly boarded his empty bus in inner-city Spring Hill on Wednesday and made demands to be taken for a ride.
The driver complied but managed to press a duress button that alerted authorities and changed the sign on the front of his bus to say “Call police!”.
A passer-by saw the sign and called for help at the same time as police were using GPS technology to track the bus.
Police stormed the bus and arrested a 28-year-old but had to taser him as he allegedly tried to escape by using his head to smash glass panels at the back of the vehicle.
The alleged offender was taken to hospital with cuts to his head and charged with drug and wilful damage charges.
The driver, aged in his 40s, was not hurt and returned to work under supervision today, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union said.
Union spokesman Tom Brown said the duress alarm had done its job but the union believed driver safety systems were still inadequate 18 months on from the horrific death of driver Manmeet Alisher.
Mr Alisher was set alight by a passenger who boarded his Brisbane bus in October 2016.
“Drivers get daily abuse and every time a passenger blows up at a bus driver they think, ‘Is this my turn?’,” Mr Brown said.
Since Mr Alisher’s death, bus drivers have staged strikes over safety and other issues.
The State Government last year released its interim response to a safety review sparked by Mr Alisher’s death, including making duress alarms mandatory in all buses and assessing the effectiveness of existing partial driver barriers.
A BRISBANE bus was allegedly hijacked by an “erratic” man who threatened the driver as he forced him on a 15-minute joy ride, with the bus driver alerting the public to the unfolding drama.
Officers saved the driver after he activated a distress alarm that both alerted police and changed the sign on the front of his bus to say “Call police!”.
A passer-by saw the sign and called for help at the same time as officers were using GPS technology to track the bus.
They located the bus about 15 minutes after the drama began about 4.45pm Wednesday, tracking the vehicle to Spring Hill.
Officers were able to climb onboard but had to Taser the man after he ran to the back of the bus and began using his head to smash glass panels in an attempt to flee, police allege.
Police allegedly found drugs on the 28-year-old, who was later charged with possession of a dangerous drug as well as wilful damage.
The bus driver, aged in his 40s, was not physically harmed during the drama, which played out along St Pauls Terrace.
Police say the driver was sitting on his empty bus when the alleged offender climbed onboard and began behaving in a threatening manner.
“He told the driver to just drive him somewhere,” a police spokesman said.
“The driver pressed the duress alarm, which then changed the sign on the front of the bus to say call police.”
The alleged offender suffered cuts to his head and was taken to hospital before being released from hospital and charged.
The matter was heard in Brisbane Magistrate’s Court Thursday and the 27-year-old man was remanded in custody.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said Brisbane City Council led the way when it came to bus safety and had implemented close to $2 million in additional safety measures for both drivers and passengers, including CCTV and emergency buttons, as well as extensive training to assist drivers in dealing with difficult situations.
“Our bus drivers are on the frontline every day providing essential public services and Council takes their safety very seriously,” Cr Quirk said.
“Bus drivers often undertake their jobs in challenging circumstances, and Council condemns anyone who puts their safety in jeopardy.”
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