Free bus travel after new attack on driver

The Kommunal union has once again begun industrial action in protest over violence against bus drivers in Stockholm.

The decision was taken late on Friday night after the brutal robbery of a bus driver near Slussen. Passengers who do not have a pre-purchased ticket or travel card will be let onto buses free of charge as drivers refuse to handle cash.

“It’s shocking that this sort of thing happens to people who work on public transport,” said Björn Dalborg, a press officer at SL, which runs Stockholm’s transport network.

“We’ve already had an exchange of letters and discussions with the Swedish Work Environment Authority about this.”

The cash stoppage is the third in recent weeks, and on the previous occasions the Work Environment Authority opposed the action.

Nevertheless, the authority is considering a complete block on drivers handling cash in Stockholm county from next year. They say that a new ticket system in Stockholm has increased cash handling fourfold, increasing the risk for drivers.

The robbery on Friday happened at near the Slussen terminus in Stockholm’s Södermalm.

When the bus arrived at Slussen the only passengers were three men who had been at a beer festival in Nacka. Instead of getting off the bus, they assaulted the driver and stole the cash box.

“They smashed his head on the floor and began to strangle him. Then they took a small amount of cash and ran away from the scene,” said Jan Olsson at Södermalm police.

The Swedish Work Environment Authority will not attempt to block the industrial action over the weekend, but a meeting has been called for Monday morning.

Bus travel in Stockholm will therefore be free on Saturday and Sunday.