Unitrans Employees Develop a Safe Space Campaign To Raise Awareness of Passenger Safety



by Breanna Pasqua

Unitrans student employees will be conducting a “Safe Space Initiative” campaign on May 10th and 11th from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  Unitrans has always taken pride in the safe and friendly service it provides to the community, and this campaign initiated by a group of student employees will help Unitrans to raise awareness about passenger safety and ensure that the public knows their rights as passengers on board any Unitrans bus.

After a recent event where a passenger was verbally assaulted by another passenger with hate speech, Unitrans student employees initiated this campaign to assure customers that they can enjoy a safe space inside the bus, and to inform the public of the policies that drivers are trained to follow if an incident were to occur. Unitrans student employees will emphasize ways to empower passengers to take an active role in keeping their buses safe, as well as increase awareness about the resources drivers can provide. There will be booths set up at both the Memorial Union and Silo Terminals with information materials, as well as on the buses. Not only is this campaign is an opportunity for the public to learn more about passenger safety, but it is also a celebration of the community of Davis and Unitrans passengers.

“We believe in the community here in Davis, and want to support it,” said Breanna Pasqua, Unitrans human resource manager and driver. “We take our responsibility as drivers seriously and eagerly accept the opportunity to contribute to our community and to continue to make our passengers feel safe.”

Drivers work hard to maintain a safe environment on board the bus for all. “As a driver, my main concern is the safety of my passengers and the people around me while driving. My focus is on the road and it is difficult to observe what is going on behind the driver’s seat,” said Devon O’Shea, Unitrans driver. “If an incident was to occur or if a passenger is uncomfortable, I would want them to tell me what is going on so I can do my job and help them feel safe. This is why this campaign is so important; everyone deserves to feel safe on public transit and I can’t help my passengers if I don’t know something is going on.”

Passengers are encouraged to enjoy the materials on board the busses and at the terminals and approach drivers with any questions.

Unitrans was founded in 1968 as the University Transport System, when the Associated Students of UC Davis purchased two vintage London double decker buses to operate on two routes. In 1972, Unitrans was opened to the general public, with partial funding from the City of Davis. Since that time the ASUCD/City of Davis partnership has continued, and now Unitrans provides public transportation service to the entire city with 49 buses on 20 routes, carrying over 3.9 million passengers/year (over 22,000 on a typical day). Unitrans currently employs 250 UC Davis undergraduate students, of which approximately 160 are student transit drivers.

This campaign is put on by a small group of seniors for a class project at the University of California, Davis alongside the employees of Unitrans marketing department. Members of the group include Susanna Chang (student and frequent Unitrans passenger), Devon O’Shea (student and Unitrans driver), Breanna Pasque (student, driver, and human resources manager at Unitrans), and Hector Solis (student, driver, and supervisor at Unitrans).


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30 thoughts on “Unitrans Employees Develop a Safe Space Campaign To Raise Awareness of Passenger Safety”

  1. Alan Miller

    After a recent event where a passenger was verbally assaulted by another passenger with hate speech, Unitrans student employees initiated this campaign

    So, this was sparked by “The Incident”.

    My take on the “The Incident” is that a guy who couldn’t stand up for himself made a YouTube video about a mentally ill person attacking him verbally and interpreting mental illness as hate speech and then blaming everyone on the bus not sticking up for his failure to deal with it properly himself, and then sending that failure out for world consumption.  Congratulations.

    At the Whole Earth Festival nonviolence trainings, we have a saying “Ignore Alien Orders”.  In other words, when a clearly disturbed individual is trying to interact with you, do not engage as if they were sane.

    We have grown up in a society where we most all isolated in steel boxes of our own environments as we travel.  Public transit is scary, you might run into other human beings – like all the rest of human history.   Riding public transit requires a bit of a thick skin.  At least a normal covering of skin.

    I am annoyed (then again I’m often annoyed) when instead of focusing on what is most critical or most important, government agencies instead react to a singular incident.  My advice to Unitrans would be “Ignore Alien Orders.”  My advice to the “victim” would be the same.

    But then again, I don’t give advice.

    1. South of Davis

      Great post from Alan…

      P.S. I don’t think you can really call it “hate speech” when a crazy black homeless guy yells at less crazy black guy who is not homeless but can’t wait to get home and post about the crazy guy on YouTube…

        1. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          So is every song where a rapper uses the “n-word” “hate speech”?

          If Republican George Will says bad things about Republican Donald Trump is it “hate speech”?

          If Republican John Boehner calls Republican Ted Cruz Lucifer is is “hate speech”.

          P.S. If Jesus comes back to earth and tells us that both Trump and Cruz are sons of Satan (after rising from the dead again) it is still hate speech?

          1. David Greenwald

            For the most part the difference is that a rap song is not directed as an individual.

        2. hpierce

          Nah, South of Davis… if you believe Christ rose from the dead, he cannot rise from the dead AGAIN.  Christians believe he rose from death, and cannot die again… suspect you are raising issues, not based on belief… cheap… perhaps offensive to those who believe in Christ

        3. hpierce

          David… so if Nazi hate speech was directed to millions, not an individual, it is not hate speech? [ref. 9:18 post]

          For the most part the difference is that a rap song is not directed as an individual..

          Good to know, given Trump’s and others speech… or are you saying if it’s in ” rap song”, it’s OK, not in other speech?  Will have to give Trump a more favorable look, as you may be suggesting, David… perhaps Trump should just put his ‘message’ re:  women, Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants in ‘rap song’, not directed to an individual, and then you could openly support him… I never will.

    2. Barack Palin

      Excellent post Alan.  You nailed it.  Just the usual from those on the left, they never miss any opportunity to make a big deal out of any situation where race is involved.

        1. The Pugilist

          Doesn’t change my thinking.  Thick skin is one thing, enduring last verbal abuse with no intervention by anyone is beyond thick skin.

  2. The Pugilist

    My view is that Unitrans has a positive obligation to prevent a passenger from being harassed and they failed that obligation.  Good for them to take these steps.

    1. Miwok

      If the driver in this incident was too dense to call some help in to deal with this, then address that. You don’t revamp the whole system for one incident.

      HR just cost UNITRANS their reputation. Just like bathrooms,  you end up with one little room per person, problem solved. Everyone who gets on will now be locked in a little cage until their destination stop?

      1. hpierce

        The other passengers were apparently “too dense to deal with it” as well… had I been on that bus, I would have started to gently but firmly confront the “attacker”, possibly suggest the “victim” grow a pair, knowing he had support, and if necessary, take other measures.

        Been there, done that…never escalated beyond the gentle, yet firm confrontation… as a society, we can’t rely on bus drivers, authorities, to deal with these situations… if one or more of the other passengers had mutually supported the low key approach, en masse, then we might not have a whiny student complaining/posting (and we might have someone else getting the mental health support needed)… remember, the bus driver was DRIVING.  I am of the opinion that we need to take care of ourselves, and others, without relying on other “authorities” to set things right and defuse this kind of behavior.  The aggressive behavior was wrong… we should all be prepared to diffuse/end it.  “Pacifism” be damned, unless the pacifist takes positive action to restore the “peace”… just “ignoring” is not a good answer.

        David asserts it was “hate speech”… I assert it was “bullying” (perhaps, under the influence and/or due to MH issues).  Whatever…

        1. Barack Palin

          We’ve all had confrontations with crazy people.  Most just write it off and don’t escalate the incident.  In this case we have someone who made a whole video about it.  Why?

        2. The Pugilist

          I don’t if you were subjected to what he was you would be so willing to write it off.  It was long and sustained over a period of time.

  3. Alan Miller

    The aggressive behavior was wrong… we should all be prepared to diffuse/end it.  “Pacifism” be damned, unless the pacifist takes positive action to restore the “peace”… just “ignoring” is not a good answer.

    Completely not understanding (not sure if that’s on my end or yours).  Nonviolence is active, takes action, and is most definitely not pacifism.  “Ignoring alien orders” means do not treat the words of the mentally ill as if they were sane, not ignore the situation.  

    While taking action may be noble, no one person on that bus had a responsibility to take action nor as a one-in-a-group-makes-the-group could be expected to do so. We must look out first and foremost for ourselves, lest we cannot stand up for others.  

    Ask yourself, would the so-called victim himself have had the right stuff to take the action he wished others to take, had another passenger been the focus of the mentally ill person?

    1. hpierce

      In reverse order… only the “so-called victim” can answer that question… to change the question, have been in similar situations, both when I was the target, or saw someone else was, I did indeed gently, yet in a ‘resolute’ manner, intervene…in one case, I was prepared to less than gentle, but the situation resolved without needing to “go there”.

      As to personal responsibility, for one’s self or for a total stranger, all I can say is I was brought up hearing, “the Lord helps those who helps themselves…”, “are you not your brother’s keeper”, and “no man is an island… ask not for whom the bell tolls”.  But that’s me…

      Except for perhaps (?) some nuances I think we are substantially on the same page… I guess what I have done was ‘aggressive’ non-violence… determined to act, as gently as possible, to resolve the situation… the nuance is that in at least one situation, was prepared to act less gently, but it didn’t come to that.

      In tennis, I remember, when a ball went into another court, you said something like, “courtesy please”, or “a little help, please”… as I recall the account, the “target” didn’t request assistance from anyone… which in my narrow view, pretty much denies them the right to expect sympathy…

  4. The Pugilist

    I’m disturbed by the idea that the solution to this problem was for the person who was the target of this abuse to ignore it.  That Unitrans handled it properly and that they shouldn’t have either removed the individual from the bus or had the police do it.

    1. Barack Palin

      Would we even be hearing about this incicent if the victim, and I use that term quite loosely, was caucasion.  I think we all know the answer to that.

      1. hpierce

        Well, probably would have gotten MORE coverage if it was black-white, vs. black-black…  Black-black  crime/injustice usually flies ‘under the radar’, which may contribute to its prevalence in largely black communities…

      2. Alan Miller

        Would we even be hearing about this incicent if the victim, and I use that term quite loosely, was caucasion.

        I don’t see race in this.  Racially offensive words used, yes. As to what the issues were, no.

    2. hpierce

      Hard to parse your comment, Pugilist… the “supportive” thing to do for the originator of the ‘attack’ would have been to try to get them the MH/other attention they needed…  so he wouldn’t be a risk to himself or others…

    3. Alan Miller

      Again, mis-understanding what I meant by ignore.  Ignore the aline orders — not treat what they say as you would from a sane individual.

      I don’t know if the driver handled it properly, as I don’t know how well they could tell what was going on while driving — and don’t know if it was as told by the so-called victim.

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