Transport bosses have warned that passengers who attack staff will be pursued both by their own investigators and the police and risk “the strongest penalty” of a prison sentence if caught.
The warning came after figures published by the Conservative group on the London Assembly revealed that four London bus drivers are attacked every day.
Between 2010 and 2013 there were 4,967 verbal and physical assaults on bus drivers, 38% of which involved being either physically assaulted or threatened with a weapon.
2010 saw 1,471 incidents, the number rose to 1,864 in 2011 before falling to 1,632 in 2012/13.
Roger Evans AM, Conservative police and crime spokesman on the Assembly, said: “The number of bus drivers facing physical attack or verbal abuse on London’s bus network is alarming. Nobody should have to put up with threats or violence while doing their job.”
“I fully appreciate that money has been invested in patrols on our buses by the police however we need to go further. First, I urge a full review of policing across all of our public transport to make sure we are targeting resources in the right area.”
Mr Evans also called for “well publicised sting operations with plain clothed officers” to be targeted at those “who think it’s acceptable to abuse bus drivers.”
Mike Weston, Director of Buses at Transport for London, said: “We do not tolerate threatening behaviour toward our staff, they are here to do a job and should be allowed to do so without fear for their safety.
“We work closely with bus operators, to support their drivers, and the police to push for the strongest penalty for anyone who abuses a member of staff.
“We have dedicated Workplace Violence Units for frontline bus and Tube staff which support the investigation and prosecution of assaults on all operational staff.
“We also have a dedicated CCTV investigation team that works in partnership with TfL, the bus operating companies and other police units to ensure the most effective use of on-bus CCTV, to reduce bus-related crime and bring perpetrators to justice.”