PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – SEPTA says the bus driver shot last night in Grays Ferry was the 46th transit driver assaulted this year in Philadelphia — already exceeding any other year’s total — and Septa and union officials are renewing calls for action on stalled state legislation that would result in tougher charges and penalties for such crimes.

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TWU Local 234 president John Johnson says 46-year-old driver Bernetta Rembert was shot in the arm and the bullet went right through (see related story).

“Now, I am emotional because that woman cried in my arms because of what is happening out on the streets,” Johnson said today.  “She is fearful for her co-workers, as well as I am.”

Septa general manager Joseph Casey says this “mindless violence” — including drivers being shot, cut, and sexually assaulted — has to stop.  He says the 46 assaults against Septa employees so far this year is more than double the 20 assaults in all of last year.

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Senate Bill 1149 in the Pennsylvania Legislature would add bus operators to the “protected” class of workers such as police officers and firefighters, and upgrade assaults against them to aggravated assaults.

Casey and Johnson believe last night’s attack highlights the need for swift passage of the bill.

Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio 1060

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