June 2, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
Brooklyn, NY—That’s what the vice chair of Transport Workers Union Local 100 said in a video interview as the union, MTA and City officials gathered at the Flatbush Bus Depot in the Flatlands on Friday to unveil a street name to honor slain bus operator Edwin Thomas.
A passenger on the B46 bus fatally stabbed Mr. Thomas to death on December 1, 2008; almost seven years later his name now adorns East 49th Street, next to the bus depot. Louis Marrero, TWU Local 100’s vice chair for all Brooklyn bus depots, said he was proud to be part of the organizing committee that successfully lobbied the city to co-name East 49th Street in honor of Edwin Thomas and then Albany to pass legislation to protect bus operators.
“It was a culmination of a lot of years of work. We [worked on] reformulating the bus operator action committee and then addressed the situation with the MTA about assaults on bus operators—we got the partitions and cameras installed on buses and were able to get an assault bill passed in Albany,” said Marrero.
He noted that those efforts to protect bus operators following Mr. Thomas’ death means he did not die in vain.
“Edwin Thomas’ death was the initial spark to bring attention to the problem of some of the lawlessness on the buses [because] of a criminal element and on that fateful day that’s what Mr. Thomas encountered,” Marrero said.
The ceremony on Friday culminated a week where TWU Local 100 is running an ad blitz in the New York Daily News to protest Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero law that illustrates de Blasio arresting an MTA bus operator. Marrero said that Vision Zero is proving to be draconian for TWU Local 100 bus operators.
“We fall under a very draconian grievance system. If there is a fatality, the bus driver’s career is over. He could even be fired or demoted if it’s proven the driver is at fault. I don’t think a lot of the City Council members knew that when they passed that bill. That’s why we’re so vigilant about this law that's criminalizing bus drivers,” said Marrero.