ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – After being punched in the face by an angry passenger, a PSTA bus driver shared his story with News Channel 8.
Mike Ralston received nine stitches after the June 17 attack at a bus stop at Central Avenue and 49th Street in St. Petersburg. Ralston suffered a deep cut under his eye. The hook from behind broke the veteran driver’s glasses, which he needs to drive.
“Nothing like that had ever happened to me, not even close,” said Ralston, who has been behind the wheel for almost 31 years.
He told News Channel 8 how the incident happened. Ralston said he told the passenger he had to pay the full fare because his student I.D. had expired.
“He rummaged around in his pockets like he was gonna come up with the fare, and as soon as I pulled over and stopped, he cold-cocked me and ran off the bus,” the driver explained.
The attacker was wearing a black apron and may work for a local fast food restaurant.
The PSTA driver’s union is outraged. “We want the public to know that under no circumstance will we tolerate a passenger putting their hands on a driver,” April Murphy said.
The union would like to see clear, plexiglass barricades installed to provide more protection. “We are exposed every single day to a potential violent act,” Murphy said.
This incident just might be the motivation to get something done to better protect drivers. “If this guy will attack me physically, he will attack any of my fellow co-workers,” Ralston said.
The union is offering a $1,500 dollar reward for information that helps catch the attacker.