GANGS of violent yobs throwing bricks and firing air rifles have been tormenting buses and taxi drivers in a vandalism hotspot.

Yesterday, The Bolton News reported on a spate of attacks aimed at private hire drivers in Winchester Way and Thicketford Road, in Breightmet, but the incidents have now taken a more sinister turn, with reports of vandals attacking buses filled with people.

On Monday evening, a bus travelling through the area was left heavily damaged when part of a paving slab was hurled through the glass doors, smashing them and nearly hitting a passenger.

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Kelly Tyrer had been about to get off the bus when the stone slab landed just inches from her feet. She was left shaken by the shocking incident but said things could have been worse, noting two babies in prams and a woman in a wheelchair who were also passengers.

“It was so close to me that if I had taken one more step and it had hit me in the head it could have killed me or put me in hospital,” she said.

“I managed to turn away but it was about 20cm away from hitting me. Glass went everywhere and I got covered in glass myself.”

In another incident on Wednesday night, vandals fired what appeared to be an air rifle at a bus travelling through the area.

At around 10.30pm the windows of the vehicle were peppered by pellets a number of times over a period of around a minute, leaving two panels smashed and forcing the driver of the vehicle to flee from the area.

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Carl Oliver, operation manager at First Bolton, which runs the buses, said the incident on Wednesday had been reported and that it was part of an string of similar attacks.

“We are carrying out an investigation into the cause of the incident, but it seems an object was throw at a bus window causing it to break,” he said.

“Thankfully, no passengers or our driver were injured. We have experienced a few similar incidents recently involving anti-social behaviour in the area which is concerning, as the safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff is paramount at all times.

“We are working with the Greater Manchester Police ‘Travel Safe Unit’ who will be running extra patrols in the area and we will do everything we can to find and prosecute the people involved in this criminal activity.”

In addition to incidents that have occurred on the buses this week, another private hire driver has come forward to say that he no longer feels safe driving through the area after the vehicle he was in was pelted with stones.

Elvis Salamdi-Maluasi had a couple in the car with him who were showered with glass when rocks were launched at his vehicle, damaging both doors on one side.

After 11 years as a taxi driver, he says it is not the first time he has been targeted while travelling through the area, but that the problems have been getting more serious recently.

He said: “This has happened to me a number of times, they always smash the windows and they throw stones.

“It’s very scary because it’s becoming too common and happening all the time.

“It used to be on the weekend on a Friday or a Saturday but now it’s every day. I dread going through there and I’m losing business.”