NJ Transit is close to enacting a strict no ride list for unruly passengers who attack its workers.

NJ Transit train crew members and bus drivers have been punched, spit on and verbally assaulted. Some have been attacked or threatened by weapons.

On Wednesday, the NJ Transit Board of Directors unanimously approved what amounts to a "no ride list" for anyone convicted of attacking a crew member.

Similar to the "no fly list" airlines have been pursuing, the NJ Transit policy would ban anyone convicted of assaulting a NJ Transit worker for up to a year. It would be extended to a lifetime ban if the assault included a weapon.

NJ Transit President & CEO Kevin Corbett believes this is the first rider ban among public transit agencies.

"There is nothing more important than ensuring our employees are safe and protected while carrying out their duties in service to the riding public," Corbett said in a statement. "These new proposed regulations should serve as powerful deterrents against an assault on our valued employees."

The number of assaults on crew members started rising even before the pandemic, but controversy and frustration over mask rules on mass transit made a bad situation worse, according to unions.

Between January and September of 2021, NJ Transit reported 52 assaults on rail crew members and 82 assaults on bus drivers.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation toughening penalties for such assaults earlier this year, elevating an attack on a public or private transit employee to a third-degree aggravated assault crime. Convictions now carry a mandatory three to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.

In accordance with that law, NJ Transit has now moved to enact a rider ban as part of a plan to deter riders from verbally or physically attacking crew members.

The public now has 60 days to comment on the new rules before formal adoption of the policy in early 2023.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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