Passenger punches bus driver over fare, Cleveland RTA says

CLEVELAND - Another incident on an RTA bus resulted in punches being thrown, but this time, a driver was injured.

RTA spokesperson Mary Shaffer said this incident happened Thursday when a man got on to an RTA bus at East 114th Street and Union Avenue and did not pay. Shaffer said when the driver asked for fare, the rider refused.

The conversation escalated until the rider punched the driver and ran off the bus, Shaffer said.

"I just (am) fortunate and lucky enough to keep my foot on the break. These people got to understand, I'm driving a big machine out there, my foot comes out the break, I get knocked out, that's it. We're going to go rolling," said RTA driver Greg Vranekovic. 

"He all called me an (expletive) again and went to the back, and then didn't see him until he started punching me," Vranekovic said at University Hospital.

Vranekovic, with a visable wound on his nose, described his injuries to be to his nose, jaw and inner cheek from the punch.

This comes just a month after video surfaced online of an RTA bus driver hitting a passenger. The video, taken on Sept, 18, appears to show 25-year-old Shi-dea Lane pushing and spitting on the driver, 59-year-old Artis Hughes.

Hughes was terminated by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority on Tuesday for the uppercut.

"It was wrong for someone to do me the way they did me, the way that RTA terminated me for doing my job when they were supposed to be behind me," Hughes told NewsChannel5 on Tuesday.

After news of Vranekovic's incident, Local 268 President William H. Nix visited the hospital not only advocating for Vranekovic, but for the RTA to restore Hughes, citing the need for drivers to protect themselves. 

"We've been having attacks before brother Hughes, after brother Hughes and this don't make sense. Our brothers and our drivers should not be a hostile environment," Nix said.

The RTA said it does not know if there is video of Thursday's fight. An investigation by transit police is under way.

Anyone with information on the passenger suspect should contact authorities.

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