January 4, 2019 7:00 am

Half of Toronto transit drivers don’t like or use safety shields, says union

Rudi Pawlychyn/Global News
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Winnipeg Transit is planning to protect its drivers by installing safety shields on all of its buses, but a representative for the transit union in Toronto says half of its members don’t like the shields and don’t use them.

“The shields have helped. They are a step in the right direction,” said Carlos Santos of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Toronto.

“But we still have probably 50-60 per cent of our operators that don’t even use the shields.

Carlos Santos

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“Number one is the glare. We get a lot of glare from the sun when we close up our shields, so it becomes a safety issue,” Santos told 680 CJOB.

“The second reason is claustrophobia. A lot of people are claustrophobic and they feel squeezed in there, so they feel uncomfortable operating the vehicle.”

Santos said he would like to see more of a public awareness campaign, letting people know about the concerns facing Toronto’s transit operators.

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READ MORE: Winnipeg Transit plans to install safety shields on all buses

Independent security consultant David Hyde told 680 CJOB that while there are different options out there to prevent bus operators from abuse, the shields are the only surefire way to keep a driver protected.

“Putting the shields up is really the only way to physically stop those violent incidents from occurring in those situations,” he said.

“There are best practices with respect to these shields. There are some that have been used in Europe and other parts of the world where we can reduce the glare and we can leave a little bit of room in the top and the bottom so the driver doesn’t feel like they’re fully encased.

“No one would want to work in that situation.”

Hyde said one option would be to look into which specific routes are more prone to crime as an alternative to fitting all 630 buses with the expensive shields.

“What’s the issue happening? How many driver assaults are occurring? Why are they occurring?

“It may be that there are certain runs at certain times – that there are high-risk routes, or certain times of day or certain areas that are worse than others.”

WATCH: City of Winnipeg will ‘decommission’ Portage Place bus shelter

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