Madison Metro Reacts to Question of Guns on City Buses

This is the recording of a 911 call on April 19, 1998. "There's a city bus, there's people on fire, there are people trying to put them out.” “People on fire?” responds the operator. “People on fire rolling on the ground and people are trying to put them out.”

It was a day those living in Madison in April of 1998 will never forget. The day a Madison Metro bus was torched while five passengers were onboard.

But since that fateful day, there have been no problems even close to that.

Madison Metro Marketing Manager Julie Maryott-Walsh says, "We certainly have incidents sometimes, like rowdy school children, but we don't have anything in our community that would warrant putting security forces on the buses."

That's not the case in Milwaukee, where last week a shootout on a bus killed an innocent passenger.

That incident has prompted the bus drivers' union there to ask for tighter security on buses.

One option would even allow security officers to carry guns on board.

"I'm sorry to say that it unfortunately took this, but I think maybe this will kickstart something," says Richard Riley, President of the Transit Union Local 998, which represents more than 800 Milwaukee bus drivers.

But a spokesperson for the Teamsters Local 695, which represents about 400 Madison Metro employees, says he doesn't want guns anywhere near Madison buses.

"I'm not in support of carrying a firearm on a bus," says Gene Gowey, Business Representative of Local 695, "When that door opens up and someone's going to shoot a loaded firearm through that door, by the time the reaction takes place the hostile force is already gone."

He says as long as Madison stays relatively safe, he'd like to keep guns in the hands of the police.

The Madison Metro runs a fleet of 207 buses. Of those, only 10 have security cameras on board.

The union says it is talking with Metro management about buying more cameras.

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