MTA bus driver fends off attacker who pulled knife over slow ride

M15 MTA bus pulls into stop
An M15 bus arrives at a bus stop on the Upper East Side.
Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

An MTA bus driver in Manhattan fended off an attacker who punched and pulled a knife on him Saturday, allegedly because the bus was traveling too slowly.

Frank Annicaro, senior vice president in charge of buses at MTA New York City Transit, said a man became enraged at the 58-year-old bus operator when the southbound M15 bus he was driving got stuck in traffic, “yelling and cursing at the bus operator for not driving faster.”

When the bus arrived at the South Ferry terminal just after noon, the man — whom police identified as 43-year-old Rashon Eagle of Staten Island — punched and choked the bus driver, and when the driver tried to defend himself, the man pulled a knife.

Nonetheless, the driver managed to disarm the attacker and held him down until police showed up.

“It appears tragedy is averted only because the operator is able to disarm the attacker and hold him as police officers arrive,” said Annicaro.

The driver was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, with injuries to his face and body.

Eagle, meanwhile, was charged with assault, criminal obstruction of breathing, and menacing, police said.

“It is lunacy for anyone to take out frustration for traffic congestion on a transit employee just trying to drive New Yorkers where they need to go, and intolerable that a bus operator suffered injuries to his face requiring hospital treatment as a result,” Annicaro said. “It’s now up to prosecutors to deliver justice with serious charges and maximum consequences.”

New York’s buses are the slowest of any major American city. In December, average speeds in Manhattan clocked in at just 6.3 miles per hour.

The M15, one of the busiest buses in the city, didn’t fare much better at 6.5 mph.