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MARTA enhances safety measures after CBS46 investigation into violent attacks

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ATLANTA (CBS46) — Back in July, CBS46 investigated and uncovered multiple videos of MARTA bus drivers being cussed, punched, and spit on.

Now, less than three months after that story aired, MARTA tells CBS46 they've made improvements to their safety. 

Ciara Cummings first exposed the transit troubles earlier this summer, revealing 44 assaults on MARTA buses from January to June of 2021. 

"Just put yourself in my shoes, could you really do this five and six days a week? They wouldn't dare try doing what we do," an anonymous driver told us. Out of fear of retaliation after being assaulted, the driver asked we conceal their identity.  

But since then, David Ward, a representative with the local transit union, says they've noticed strides in more policing.  

MARTA Police Department confirmed the recent improvements. Sgt. Deneya Littles explained they added more plain-clothes officers to routes, riding undercover with passengers—sometimes even unbeknownst to drivers. The agency has also increased patrols and trained more bus drivers on de-escalation techniques.  

MARTA PD credits those measures for fewer attacks.

Our follow-up review found there have been 15 more reported assaults on drivers since our story first aired in July, but there's been no major uptick month-to-month. From July to September, five attacks have been reported each month. 

"I feel like there's always room for improvement," Littles said. "We're just going to keep going hard with that, keep assigning more officers, keep the communication open between the police and bus operators."

However, the local transit union claims MARTA failed to see the problems until we showed the public what was happening. Union Rep. David Ward says workers still feel vulnerable. They do, however, recognize the recent improvements and hope the change persists much longer than the transit troubles. 

"Just want the MARTA management to understand that employees deserve a safe work environment and to put forth a good effort to provide top tier policing, training, and other additional resources," he said. 

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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