When passengers attack: The harsh reality of being a bus driver in China

Society & Culture

Driving is a risky activity. But imagine how demanding and distressing it would be to drive for people who have no respect for your services and wouldn’t mind putting others at risk if angered by minor issues that often have nothing to do with you. Such is the harsh reality that Chinese bus drivers experience at their jobs.

Below is a roundup of recent incidents where bus drivers were threatened, assaulted, or injured by passengers for a variety of dumb reasons.

  • On November 27, after missing her stop while having her eyes glued to her phone, a woman in Jiangsu demanded to get off the bus between stops. The bus driver rejected her request and was brushed in the face right before her departure. An investigation into the incident is underway.
  • On the same day in Hunan Province, a female bus driver endured physical attacks by a passenger in his 60s who was angry at being called a “senior” when the driver warned him to be cautious about his safety. In addition to the assault, the passenger attempted to take over the steering wheel while the bus was on the road.
  • On November 25, a woman in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, was jammed by a bus door when boarding the vehicle. While the driver immediately apologized to the woman, he was brutally beaten by three of the woman’s friends when the bus stopped at her destination.

  • On November 24, a bus failed to pick up a woman because the passenger was waiting at a wrong location. She later called her husband, who used his vehicle to force the bus to stop, then struck the driver repeatedly. The couple was detained for 10 days.
  • On November 17, a bus driver in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, was forced to pull over after being kicked in the head by a passenger. The dispute started when the attacker talked to the driver in a local dialect that he couldn’t understand. The driver told the assailant not to interfere with his driving, which allegedly enraged the passenger.
  • On November 15, a 34-year-old passenger in Beijing started an argument with a conductor regarding the charge of her bus ticket. As the dispute escalated, the passenger knocked down the fire extinguisher on the bus, verbally threatened the driver, and randomly smashed buttons on the steering wheel. The most terrifying part, according to other passengers on the bus, was the woman screaming, “Let’s die together.”

It’s mind-boggling that all this news came out not long after a sensational car accident in Chongqing last month — a bus plunged off a bridge and killed 15 people because of an upset passenger who assaulted the driver because she couldn’t get over the fact that she missed her stop. Following the incident, a prank poster appeared on a bus in Wuhan. Put up by a random passenger, the poster reads, “This bus passes the Yangtze Bridge. Please don’t start a fight with the driver. This is no joke.”

No joke, seriously. Assaulting bus drivers should be a crime. But before laws are put in place, bus drivers in China will continue to deal with hysterical passengers on a daily basis, at the cost of public safety.

Bus plummets into Yangtze River after passenger assaults driver