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 A frustrated passenger repeatedly punched a King County Metro Transit driver in the University District, causing a bus to crash into a tree Thursday morning.

The incident happened about the Route 49 bus just after 6 a.m. in the 4300 block of 15th Avenue Northeast, where the 40-year-old suspect was arrested, according to Seattle police.

The man apparently did not have enough money to pay the full $2.50 fare, Seattle police and Metro officials say.  He was upset about being late for work, and repeatedly punched the driver, who wound up with a bruised face and possible broken leg, police say.  

Only three people were aboard the bus at the time. The driver was taken to a hospital, and is at home recovering, Metro spokeswoman Linda Thielke said today.

Assaulting a transit driver is a felony.  On average, a Metro driver is injured in an assault or threatened with a weapon about once a month.

Under Metro’s operating rules, drivers are instructed to ask once for fare payment, but not to physically compel it or cause a confrontaton.