TRENTON – In response to growing numbers of violent incidents aimed at NJ Transit workers, a proposed bill moving through the Legislature would ban passengers from NJT’s trains and buses if they’re found guilty of assault.

The bill, S4071/A6013, was endorsed by the Senate transportation committee Monday though was not taken up by the panel’s Assembly counterpart, which will meet again once more in December before the legislative session ends in early January.

Ron Sabol, New Jersey state director of SMART-TD, which represents NJ Transit workers, said the bill would allow people to be banned from accessing public transportation for a year if they’re found by a court to have committed an assault.

People who commit an assault with a deadly weapon could be banned from NJT for life, Sabol said.

“The pending legislation before you is critical to all transit workers as well as the public,” Sabol said. “I’m sure all of you have seen in the news assaults of public transportation workers are on the rise at an alarming rate.”

The determination as to whether someone committed assault on a transit worker would be made through the regular criminal courts, but the transit ban would then be added later by the agency, not a judge. An appeal process within NJ Transit would have to be established.

The bill also requires de-escalation training for transit workers and supervisors and provides employee assistance such as mental health help for employees who are assaulted.

Sabol said NJT workers are being punched in the face and spit at by commuters.

“This is out of control at this point,” he said. “I’m sure everybody’s seen what’s happening on the news. I think we really need to look at addressing it in some way here in New Jersey.”

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Adam Guziejewski, a lobbyist for the Bus Association of New Jersey, expressed concern about how the language of the proposal would apply to bus companies, so future amendments to the bill appear likely.

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