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For a bus driver on Route 15, a serene attitude is primary defense against assault

MBTA bus driver Miguel Goncalves said he maintains an easygoing, respectful attitude with his passengers on Route 15 in  Roxbury.
MBTA bus driver Miguel Goncalves said he maintains an easygoing, respectful attitude with his passengers on Route 15 in Roxbury. Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

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Miguel Goncalves is an easygoing guy — and in his line of work, he can’t afford not to be.

An MBTA bus driver for 11 years, he knows that every interaction with a rider is a conflict waiting to escalate. He knows that Route 15 is one of the problem routes, where customers tend to be particularly prickly. And he’s extra-careful to ensure that he doesn’t get into any trouble.

“You don’t want to add fuel to the fire,” he said from behind the wheel of the bus on Dudley Street.

Assaults on MBTA bus drivers and T operators are on the rise: There have been 44 assaults so far this year, compared with 35 from this time last year, according to statistics from the MBTA.

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