SINGAPORE - There have been 27 reports of passengers abusing bus drivers in 2022 so far, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat on Monday.
Public transport operators reported 35 such cases in 2021, 50 in 2020, 52 in 2019 and 26 in 2018, he told Parliament in response to Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) and Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas).
Both MPs had asked for the number of bus drivers getting abused each year and the penalties for abusers, as well as the measures to protect drivers.
In November, a passenger who attacked a bus driver when she missed her stop was jailed for eight weeks. In another case under investigation, a passenger was arrested after he punched a bus driver for asking him to put on his face mask.
Mr Chee on Monday said there is zero tolerance for such behaviour.
“Commuters who abuse our bus captains will face serious consequences, including jail time,” he added.
He noted that perpetrators can be jailed for up to 12 months, fined up to $5,000, or receive both punishments under the Protection from Harassment Act. Those convicted of voluntarily causing hurt under the Penal Code can be jailed for up to three years, fined up to $5,000, or both.
Mr Melvin Yong, who is also executive secretary of the National Transport Workers’ Union, asked if there were plans to review the penalties.
Responding, Mr Chee said, “if the existing measures are not adequate, we are prepared to look at reviewing them”.
Asked about installing screens on public buses to protect bus drivers, Mr Chee said trials in 2018 and 2020 were discontinued after drivers said the glare from these barriers posed a safety risk when driving.