11/01/2011 12:09 pm ET Updated Jan 01, 2012

Attacks On Subway Workers See A 16 Percent Rise

Bad news from the underground: coinciding with a 17 percent rise in subway crime, the number of attacks on subway workers has increased by 16 percent from January through October this year.

During the same time span last year, 19 attacks were reported.

Last week, a group of workers described some of the shocking assaults before an MTA board. A female conductor said "a male passenger attacked me. He jumped up because I woke him up, punched me in the side," while another operator described being punched in the face.

President of Transports Workers Union Local 100 John Samuelsen cited a troubled economy, budget cutbacks, and what The Daily News describes as a "general tolerance" for attacks on subway staff as the primary reasons for the unnerving percentage increase.

The increase in attacks on subway workers parallels the rise in attacks made above ground on city bus drivers. Back in September, 45-year old Maria Hogan said she was punched in the face by a passenger who became infuriated when she announced a change in her bus route.

Another bus driver, Marlene Bien-Aime, was assaulted after she told a teenage girl she would not be able to bring her dog onboard the bus. Bien-Aime said of the incident:

She dragged me from my hair, my nose is broken, and my eyes -- I can't even see right...I was caught by surprise.After she hit me in the eye, I took the seatbelt off and she’s still coming at me. She was on top of me, hitting me in the head, hitting me over and over.

The attacks have prompted the MTA to promise to make changes in order to protect drivers from future attacks.

A pilot program has seen the installation of protective shields for drivers.