An Auckland bus driver is in hospital after a passenger dragged him from his seat and struck him repeatedly in an 11-minute "violent and unprovoked" attack during a late-night suburban run.
And police today revealed it was the second time in a month the same driver had been assaulted while on the job.
There were now plans to increase police patrols and visibility on and around buses to ensure the safety of drivers.
Auckland City Police Detective Senior Sergeant Phil Cox said police were called about 10.20pm to Great North Rd after a passenger on the bus allegedly started attacking the driver - dragging him from his seat to the aisle, striking him multiple times.
The driver was taken to hospital in a critical condition.
He is now in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
Cox said the attacker fled the scene but police were able to swiftly locate him and he was arrested and taken into custody.
Tramways Tramways Union president Gary Froggatt told the Herald the beating may have been sparked by the driver using a radio telephone after the passenger got on the bus without paying a fare.
Froggatt said security footage captured every aspect of the assault, including the passenger getting on the bus at Waterview but not tagging on with an AT Hop Card.
The footage showed the driver questioning him before using the communication device.
"At this point he went up and hauled the driver out of the seat and beat him up for 11 minutes," said Froggatt.
"He's in a very bad state. He had to go and have emergency treatment at Auckland Hospital."
Froggatt said the assault was captured on CCTV.
Cox described it as an appalling act of violence on one of the community's essential workers, who was just going about their job.
This was completely unacceptable, he said.
To make matters worse this was the second time the victim had been assaulted while working in the past month.
Cox said on August 29 the driver had also been assaulted on Railside Ave in Henderson.
Three youths had been referred to Youth Aid in relation to that matter.
Police were offering support to the driver and his family through Victim Support and would continue that support after this latest incident.
Cox said as well as stepping up patrols around bus runs, police would also continue to work closely with Auckland Transport on this issue.
Last week Police and Auckland Transport issued a plea for people to treat drivers with the respect they deserve after a spate of assaults and abuse incidents over the past few months.
Froggatt said short of putting a security guard or a conductor on every bus there was not a great deal else that could be done.
"It is an appalling situation and it does desperately concern all bus drivers," said Froggatt.
He said companies needed to increase training when it came to personal safety and security.
Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison said he was dismayed at the latest attack on a bus driver.
"I am appalled and hugely upset that there has been another assault on a bus driver who was just doing their job," he said.
"Bus drivers are an essential way of keeping our city moving and they should not be subjected to harm under any circumstances
He said safety was a top priority on the network with the company working very closely with police through a number of measures to put an end to this abhorrent behaviour.
From August 1 to September 17, there were 35 reported incidents involving abuse or aggression towards Auckland's bus drivers despite the low patronage due to alert level 4
Meanwhile, a 27-year-old man was charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possession of a knife in a public place.
He appeared in the Auckland District Court this morning.