Civil action may be taken against abusers of SBS Transit staff

SBS Transit will not tolerate any abuse against its staff and will fully back any staff who wishes to defend their rights beyond the criminal justice system and file for civil action.

This means helping victimised staff navigate the legal system, including appointing representation as well as undertaking the costs.

In the last few months, there has been numerous acts of violence against frontline staff of SBS Transit, particularly in relation to the enforcement of the strict mask-up rule which has been in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The latest incident, which occurred on 15 September 2020, involved a commuter verbally and physically abusing a Bus Captain (BC) of Service 21 for 12 minutes after he was found not donning a mask when he boarded. During the attack, the assailant grabbed the BC’s neck and collar for more than a minute, refusing to let go. The attack only stopped because of the kind actions of three Good Samaritans who were at the bus stop at the time and who had seen what was happening on board the bus.

In another incident on 20 August 2020, a commuter was advised by our BC to adjust his mask so it covered his nose. The man later pulled down his mask even further, exposing his mouth too. The BC again advised him to put on his mask properly and this resulted in a verbal tirade against the BC. Later, the man even physically abused the BC by grabbing his shirt.

And a day before that, on 19 August 2020, another one of our BCs was filmed by a commuter who had boarded with a neck gaiter. As our BC was unsure if this qualified as a mask, he contacted the Operations Control Centre for clarification. This angered the commuter who posted a live video on Facebook throughout the entire incident, making many disparaging remarks about our BC. The Ministry of Health has since ruled that neck gaiters should not be used in place of masks.

SBS Transit Acting CEO, Cheng Siak Kian, said: “These attacks against our frontline staff are uncalled for and must stop. Our people go to work every day to do their jobs – including enforcing strict rules and regulations. To be called names, abused or even attacked, for asking someone to put on a mask, or pay the correct fare, is wrong.

“In severe cases like this incident on 15 September, we will not hesitate to provide all assistance including appointing lawyers to help him sue his assailant for all damages and losses incurred by him,” he said.