ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE Investigates showed viewers the disturbing surveillance video of the violence on city buses in Albuquerque. When a city councilor saw those videos, she took action.
Just this year, City of Albuquerque bus drivers have been punched, slapped, shot at, and attacked. KRQE Investigates uncovered an uptick in reported violence against city bus drivers in a recent report.
Klarissa Peña, an Albuquerque City Councilor representing District 3, said she saw that report and wants the city to work harder to protect drivers and passengers. “Actually seeing it happening, it was just so disheartening,” said Peña. “And my just my heart went out to people who are really trying to legitimately ride the bus.”
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Peña will now introduce a resolution to city councilors Wednesday night calling for a ‘Transit System Security Incident Response Tactical Plan.’ She’s asking for quarterly data and asking transit to let the council know about calls for service to Albuquerque buses and stations.
The resolution also calls for the administration to develop a procedure for “preventing access to people who’ve been abusive or dangerous toward drivers and the public…,” which would include “distributing to relevant Transit Department personnel a continually updated list of persons who have lost their access to the transit system.”
“Just making sure that we’re working together to be able to respond to these calls and have the data to show what types of calls we’re getting, how frequent and the level of the call,” said Peña. “Because there’s some pretty serious things happening.”
Last month, cameras captured Alan Salazar pulling out a rifle and shooting out the windows from inside a city bus as it drove along Central in the Nob Hill area. The video shows there was a child on that bus. A man shields the child with his body, while another passenger is crouched in the back, anxiously waiting for Salazar to leave.
Today, Salazar is still behind bars. But the same can’t be said for everyone who’s attacked drivers.
“I would be fearful for my child or my son or daughter to be riding the bus as a means of transportation to get to work and knowing that they’re being confronted with this on a daily basis,” said Peña.
Councilor Peña voted alongside other councilors to make bus fares free this year and help offset the high cost of transportation. It’s a program she’d like to see continue safely, she says.
“As council, as a city, we just need to make sure that we don’t allow this to happen and that we ensure that we apprehend people who are doing this and make it very clear that, no, not allowed, you do not do this to anyone, anywhere, and especially not on public transportation where there’s kids and families,” Peña told KRQE.
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The city councilor admits the wheels of government move slower than she’d like but hopes this resolution is a step toward keeping people safe.
Councilor Peña’s resolution will be discussed in the finance and government committee before it’s discussed in full council. That will likely happen within the next month.