Union representing Tauranga bus drivers say they need protection after a series of recent threats

The union representing bus drivers in Tauranga says police and council need to protect workers who are being attacked on the job.

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Drivers say they've been robbed and assaulted, with fears someone will be seriously hurt without change. Source: 1 NEWS

Drivers claim they've been robbed and sexually assaulted, and there are fears someone will be seriously hurt if the problem isn't fixed.

“We've had four driver assaults, of which two have been woman who have been inappropriately approached and touched by passengers," First Union’s Graham McKean told 1 NEWS.

"We've had three robberies and we've had one young schoolgirl who's been sexually assaulted.” 

He claims those behind the attacks are part of a network of criminal activity in Tauranga.

“So the drivers are really fragile at the moment. They have real concerns that the robberies are young gang prospects,” McKean says.

NZ Bus, which operates the services, says it condemns such behaviour and is working with police and the council to address the problem.

Drivers didn't want to appear on camera for fear of retaliation, but one driver told 1 NEWS two men climbed onto the bus and attempted to steal money, but ran off with her bag instead.

The driver says she activated the emergency button but was told the radio was broken.

However NZ Bus says it's unaware of any communication issues.

"The woman drivers, they don't want to drive at night. They don't want to go to areas where there's high risk,” McKean says.

He'd like to see security guards in bus shelters and says cash should no longer be accepted.

In a statement, police said one person has been dealt with in relation to one of the indecent assaults and they're investigating other incidents.

“Sooner or later, we're going to get a driver badly beaten up or worse and we need to make sure that we can stop it right here, right now,” McKean says.