Bus Driver Target of Unruly Passenger - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Bus Driver Target of Unruly Passenger

Franklin Arvidson Franklin Arvidson
Kolii Blaisdell has been behind the wheel of a city bus for nearly six years. Kolii Blaisdell has been behind the wheel of a city bus for nearly six years.

by Minna Sugimoto

ALA MOANA (KHNL) -- It appears taxi drivers aren't the only ones dealing with violent passengers. A 41-year-old man is in Honolulu police custody after investigators say he attacked a city bus driver.

It happened just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, when the bus was pulled over at a bus stop. The union representing city bus drivers says drivers are constantly getting spit on, scratched, punched and threatened.

Kolii Blaisdell has been behind the wheel of a city bus for nearly six years. He's seen his share of difficult passengers.

"You know, we're on everybody's good day and everybody's bad day," he said. "We're at the end of it, the beginning of it, and during it."

He says bus drivers get harassed by riders all the time.

"Every day on the bus it happens," he said. "Not particularly with just me but other drivers, whether it's being actually assaulted or being yelled at or being called certain names in the book."

For one of his co-workers, an encounter with a bus rider turned physical Wednesday night. Officers arrested 41-year-old Franklin Arvidson on suspicion of interfering with the operator of a public transit vehicle. That's a felony.

Police say Arvidson was being unruly at a bus stop near Ala Moana Center, so the driver refused to let him on board. That's when, investigators say, the suspect punched the driver in the face. The 43-year-old victim wasn't badly hurt.

"At least people do feel safer riding the bus if they know that, you know, there's someone that will oversee whatever the problem may be," Faith Leao, passenger, said.

A criminal background check shows the suspect is on probation until 2009 for the exact same offense. He's also been convicted of criminal property damage, theft and burglary.

Despite the possible dangers, Blaisdell keeps on driving.

"People use this to go to work, to get home," he said. "And I'm just providing the service."

A person found guilty of interfering with the operator of a public transit vehicle faces up to five years in prison. For years, the Teamsters union has been fighting for stiffer penalties.

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