By CBS3 Staff

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — SEPTA is offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest of a suspect who assaulted an employee. Eyewitness News reporter Alicia Roberts has the latest as officials search for the suspect and a look at a growing pattern of safety concerns for SEPTA employees and riders.

Eyewitness News pressed officials for the data about how often something like this happens. What we found may highlight a troubling trend for its more than 302 million annual riders.

READ MORE: United States FDA Authorizes Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine For Use In Children Ages 12-15

“We think somebody like that is a dangerous individual,” SEPTA Chief Press Officer Andrew Busch said.

SEPTA police need your help to find this man captured on surveillance video who boarded a bus in Upper Darby last Saturday night not wearing a mask, which is required on all SEPTA buses and trains.

“The SEPTA bus operator requested that the man put the mask on to enter the bus. The reaction to that was truly outrageous,” Busch said.

Officials say the simple request quickly turned very dangerous.

READ MORE: Community Recalls Memories At Historic St. Leo's Church In Tacony As Fire Crews Work To Determine What Caused Blaze

“He threatened the operator, showed a gun in his waistband and then exited the bus,” Busch said.

The driver was unharmed. No passengers were injured.

Data from SEPTA shows this incident is perhaps more common than you may think.

Since 2018, there have been more than 700 verbal and physical assaults against SEPTA employees. And despite ridership down by 70% in 2020 due to the pandemic, the percentage of reported incidents doubled.

“We’re staying on top of the numbers, we’re tracking them, we’re putting additional resources into security,” Busch said.

SEPTA is offering a $1,000 reward as it searches for the man who pulled a gun on a bus driver.

MORE NEWS: Expect Gas Prices To Tick Up Even More In Philadelphia Area After Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack, AAA Says

CBS3’s Alicia Roberts reports.