A Sydney bus driver has been sprayed in the face at least six times with capsicum spray in an attack described by police as ‘despicable’ and ‘cowardly’.
The State Transit Authority bus had stopped on Oxford Street in Surry Hills about 10.40pm Thursday evening when the man, believed to be English, tried to enter the bus.
However, the driver, 38, stopped him from boarding, explaining the bus was full and he’d have to wait for the next one to arrive.
But police allege the man refused to leave, sitting on the dash of the bus and abusing the driver – before spraying him in the face with a chemical agent believed to be capsicum or pepper spray and running away.
Superintendent Police Commander Gavin Woods said the man sprayed the driver in the face at least six times.
‘As a result of that spraying, the bus driver was incapacitated, he wasn’t able to complete his shift. He wasn’t able to complete the route on his bus.’
The 38-year-old began having trouble breathing and was treated at the scene by paramedics.
Authorities are asking for the public’s assistance in finding and identifying the man as he fleed the scene almost immediately.
‘It is despicable behaviour obviously by a coward,’ Supt Wood said.
‘The male bus driver was out working hard, working for the community, driving a bus full of commuters and for that, he’s attacked.’
The spray is being examined but police are saying the symptoms the driver experienced were consistent with those of capsicum spray.
State Transit head of safety Wayne Potter said the 38-year-old man is in shock after the incident but is in good shape and is back at work.
He said there has been an escalation in anti-social behaviour on buses which ‘needs to stop’.
‘This sort of behaviour is just outrageous,’ he told reporters on Friday.
NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said it was ‘unacceptable behaviour’ and urged the man to hand himself in to police.