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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 7, 2015 01:16 PM
From: Representative Peter Schweyer
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation to Clarify the Penalty for Aggravated Assaults Committed Against Employees of Public Transportation
When the House convenes, I will introduce legislation intended to clarify the enhanced penalty for aggravated assaults committed against employees of transportation companies, such as CAT, LANTA, RRTA, BARTA, SEPTA, ACT, and other such transit authorities statewide.

As many of you may know, physical assaults against bus drivers have increased statewide. These assaults have made operating a bus or train a dangerous occupation. Take if you will:
  • In my legislative district, it has been estimated that five LANTA drivers were assaulted over the last four years
  • In 2011, there were 91 reported attacks of SEPTA operators, including over 46 physical assaults
  • In 2013, a transit driver was attacked with a metal bar in Pittsburgh

Now imagine if any one of those assaults occur while a bus has a full load of passengers and is driving along a busy road. Not only is the operator at risk, but passengers and unsuspecting motorists are as well. It is my belief that making employees of transportation companies a protected class under the aggravated assault provisions of Title 18 is a matter of public safety.

Currently, aggravated assault committed against an employee of an agency, entity or company engaged in public transportation is graded as a felony of the first degree. (18 Pa.C.S. § 2702(a) (2) and (b)) However, employees of transportation companies are not listed in the subsection that enumerates the officers, agents, employees, and other persons included in the protected classes, which generates application of the enhanced penalty for offenders charged with aggravated assault of an individual in a protected class. Consequently, my legislation would amend Title 18 to include “employees of a transportation company” as a protected class, thereby, ensuring that the enhanced penalty (felony of the 1st or 2nd degree) will be triggered against such offenders.

Thank you for joining me as a co-sponsor.

Introduced as HB279