Bus staff ‘incandescent’ at targeted attacks on McGill’s new electric fleet as driver narrowly escapes injury
Bus staff are “incandescent” over targeted attacks on a new electric fleet, with one driver saved from serious injury from a hurled brick by a Covid screen.
The multiple incidents involving operator McGill’s new buses in Glasgow and Renfewshire follow a series of windows being smashed on Lothian buses in Edinburgh and First Scotland East buses in West Lothian.
They came as the head of the British Transport Police in Scotland warned of an “emerging threat” of youth antisocial behaviour involving buses and trains.
McGill’s said a clear pattern had emerged of the 56 electric buses in its 250-strong fleet being targeted, possibly because of their prominence and publicity surrounding their introduction two months ago.
Group chief executive Ralph Roberts told The Scotsman: “It is always them that are suffering this.
“Such attacks were a rare occurrence prior to electric vehicles taking to the road, but have increased significantly over the last few months.
“These are criminal acts and we should not think of it as vandalism – it is an attack on passengers, staff and vehicles which endangers lives.
"In one recent incident, only the Covid shield prevented serious injury to a driver from a brick which had been launched through the bus door.
"We would be rightly shocked if people were subject to such attacks whilst in a cafe or shop, and it should be no different when on a bus."
Police Scotland have recorded more than 127 incidents as part of its Operation Proust crackdown in the east of Scotland, including Lothian’s drivers being abused and vehicles attacked, with bricks thrown at windows.
The spate led to some routes being suspended, and evening services temporarily withdrawn in March.
In one incident, a driver suffered an eye injury from flying glass when a bus windscreen was smashed.
The dozens of youths who have charged over the attacks include two boys, aged 12 and 13, for smashing a tram window in Edinburgh with a stone.
In a further incident last month, Lothian diverted all services from Pennywell Road in the Muirhouse area of Edinburgh after a bus was reportedly struck.
A decoy bus has been deployed in Midlothian to catch such criminals.
First Scotland East said West Lothian was a “thorny” area for incidents.
Buses were withdrawn from the Blackburn and Blackridge areas last week after several had windows smashed.
Mr Roberts said: "As we've seen earlier this year in parts of Scotland, bus services have had to be withdrawn from certain areas due to such incidents.
"This is a course of action that no one would want to take,but the safety of our passengers and staff is of paramount importance.
The staff at McGill’s have also taken these buses to heart and are really proud of them – they are incandescent about such incidents."
Euan Connell tweeted: “Exact same thing happened to one of the electric buses in Kilmarnock, five windows smashed on it and talks of rerouting the service to avoid it happening in that area again.”
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