HOUSTON — To fight back against a spike in assaults on bus operators, Metro officials announced the start of a public awareness campaign urged at making riders more aware of the agency's code of conduct, The Houston Chronicle reported.

The campaign, including signs and posters that say “Respect is Mutual,” follows a 73% increase in assaults on operators this year compared to 2014. Through Thursday, Dec. 17, Metro reported 52 assaults this year, ranging from angry riders spitting on bus drivers to punching, head-butting and cursing them — the highest number of assaults in the past six years, the report said.

Any physical engagement with a bus operator, even spitting, could lead to the suspect being charged with assault of a public servant, Metro board member Jim Robinson said, according to the Chronicle.

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