Edmonton bus driver assaulted with pepper spray; teens charged

EDMONTON — Another Edmonton Transit bus driver has been assaulted over a fare dispute.

EDMONTON — Another Edmonton Transit bus driver has been assaulted over a fare dispute.

The latest attack saw a veteran driver blasted in the face with a can of pepper spray Monday morning after two teens got in an argument with him at the Coliseum Transit Station.

The driver wasn’t seriously hurt, but police say the attacks are troubling.

Earlier this month, 58-year-old driver Tom Bregg was dragged off the bus and kicked repeatedly in the face and head after a passenger got angry by the fare.

Sgt. Robinder Gill said the teens, aged 14 and 15, were nabbed less than 10 minutes later waiting at another bus stop.

The pair are charged with assault with a weapon and breach of probation.

Their names cannot be released due to provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Earlier this month, officials with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 said drivers have been assaulted almost 70 times in 2009.

The incidents range from being spit on to the vicious assault on Bregg, for which he still remains in hospital after several surgeries.

The attack renewed calls for safety shields to be installed in most city buses as well as prompting two city councillors to back union calls to push tougher legislation, which would put transit employees in the same category as peace officers if they’re assaulted.

Chuck Van Deel Piepers, safety operations co-ordinator for Edmonton Transit Service, said drivers are trained to avoid dangerous situations.

He said they won’t bring in driver safety shields despite the recent incidents.

The pepper-sprayed driver had his eyes flushed out, while six other passengers also reported some exposure to the noxious spray.

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