Published Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 | 5:16 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 | 6:52 p.m.
A contract Regional Transportation Commission paratransit driver is accused of attacking a woman on Tuesday, striking her in the face, and was arrested by North Las Vegas Police.
The RTC offers paratransit bus service to the disabled and the 67-year-old woman was riding at about 12:39 p.m. Tuesday from her home to the Doolittle Senior Center, police said.
The woman questioned whether the bus driver knew the way to the Doolittle Senior Center on J Street and was on her cell phone talking to the RTC when the driver pulled the bus over in the 300 block of Carey Avenue, police said. He told the woman to get out, and she refused to leave the bus.
The woman then dialed 911 and the bus driver allegedly came back to her seat and struck her in the face, police said. He then allegedly grabbed her cell phone, threw it at her and struck her in the face again. The cell phone fell to the floor of the bus and broke, police said.
After reviewing videotape of the incident from the bus, North Las Vegas officers arrested Alfred Setian, who worked 10 years for First Transit Company and wasn't directly employed by the RTC. He is charged with battery and faces a more severe charge because a senior citizen was involved. The company fired him this afternoon, a spokeswoman said.
The company also apologized for the incident.
The injured woman was treated on the scene by paramedics and is fine, police said.
Tuesday’s incident was not mentioned in the RTC board’s regular meeting Thursday morning, but other passengers were on hand to complain about their own problems with the commission’s paratransit service.
Marsha Herbert has taken it upon herself to become a volunteer advocate for both passengers and drivers and has often spoken to the board about problems with the system.
Herbert said she has never before heard of a driver punching a passenger, but said it is not uncommon for passengers to have problems with rude drivers.
“There are often instances of that, especially of drivers not knowing their way around,” she said after hearing about the attack later Thursday.
“We have drivers that don’t know where they are going, can’t find their way around and so are often late,” she said.
Herbert, who gets 10 to 15 calls each week from passengers and drivers, said she was surprised to hear that the alleged attack involved an experienced driver.
Most of the complaints she receives from passengers involve new drivers that she believes were not properly trained and most physical attacks she hears about are passengers assaulting drivers or other passengers.
“I am surprised about the punching,” she said, “99 percent of our long-term drivers are wonderful.”
And those drivers are under a lot of stress and pressure, especially from passengers who can be disruptive and sometimes abusive, she said.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Carol Medeiros told the commission that she recently had an experience where a driver did not know where he was going and actually asked her for directions.
Medeiros also said she had problems with drivers not helping her get safely on the bus and has been verbally harassed by both passengers and drivers.