TransLink has provided bus drivers with a barrier to protect them from acts of violence while on the job.
The glass barrier is partly open to the public and can sit in a number of different positions; it can slide all the way forward and get locked in place ensuring that the driver is mostly protected, and it can also be adjusted according to the preference of the driver.
Derek Stewart, manger of environmental sustainability at Coast Mountain Bus Company says the new design is a good shield to serve as a barrier between the driver and potentially violent passengers even though it is not completely closed off for various safety precautions.
“The primary reason is that we need to have proper sight lines to the mirrors, so by moving the barrier back here we can see the mirrors clearly for a safe departure from the curb and ensure passengers are safely off the vehicles,” said Stewart. “At night it also allows us to eliminate the reflections that might otherwise occur in the glass.”
Stewart also says an important part of driving a bus is customer service therefore to have a barrier that still has free space allows drivers to ensure accurate and effective communications with passengers.
A long history of drivers being punched, spit on and sexually assaulted was what had prompted the innovation. It took two years to plan the ideal structure.
“We heard a lot of feedback from the various designs we looked at, some of those were a feeling of being enclosed, that there were reflections, and there were issues with heat, so one of the reasons we’ve gone with this option is that it deals with those negative effects of having a barrier,” said Stewart.
The cost to install the structure is $5,000 and according to Stewart although that is a hefty cost, safety has no budget.
The goal is to have 75 per cent of Coast Mountain Buses installed with this fixture in the next decade.
READ MORE: Pilot project to put bus drivers behind protective shields gets underway
The design was tested on six bus routes in 2015.
In the latest assault that took place in Metro Vancouver in January, a TransLink driver was sexually assaulted while operating her bus in Burnaby.
Police said a man approached the driver multiple times before asking if she would like to go for drinks with him after work. As she was declining his offer, the man allegedly reached his hand in between her legs and fondled her.
The driver pushed his hand away and pulled an alarm while driving the bus into the bus loop at Production Way SkyTrain Station. Shortly after, the man was apprehended at Moody Station and arrested.
Transit Police say there were 101 assaults on bus drivers in 2016.
-With files from Jill Slattery and Jordan Armstrong