The first safety shields are being installed on four Edmonton Transit Service buses this week.
It’s a metal door that, when closed, isolates the driver from the bus. However, the top half is open to the vehicle with a power window function that can be used to raise the glass if an emergency situation arises.
“Our full rollout of that installation happens in July,” ETS branch manager Eddie Robar explained Wednesday afternoon, less than a day after the first shield was installed.
The installation comes eight months after a violent attack on bus driver Mike Kostelny. Last September, he was stabbed 22 times by a teenager in an unprovoked attack.
Following the assault, city council approved safety measures worth more than $20 million to improve safety for ETS customers and staff, including equipping all buses with shields.
The fleet enhancements cost approximately $11 million including installation and related upgrades for ventilation in non-air-conditioned buses.
The union that represents ETS drivers is pleased with the changes, noting there’s been a push for the shields for the last couple of years.
“I don’t think there’s any other major transit jurisdiction in North America that’s going to have shields in all their buses other than Edmonton,” said Mark Tetterington, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569.
Once full rollout begins this summer, about 30 buses a week will be upgraded.
The entire fleet should be outfitted by spring 2020.