New safety barriers protecting bus drivers will be rolling out on new TransLink buses by early next year.
The barrier is in response to more than a hundred assaults on bus drivers in 2016 – a number TransLink officials say has remained steady years prior.
Made out of plastic and glass, the shield offers a clear wall between drivers and riders and can be opened and closed.
Dee Cooke, who has driven for Coast Mountain Bus Company for 18 years, says the extra protection gives her peace of mind while she’s on the road.
“It’s very sleek, but when it comes right down to it, it’s about the safety,” she said. “Drivers not being hit by a customer coming up that’s angry.”
Drivers have been spit on, kicked, sworn at, had hot coffee thrown at them, and more.
One particular assault made headlines in 2011, when driver Charles Dixon was taunted and punched in the face by a passenger who had snuck on board without paying. Dixon ended up with a concussion and brain damage.
TransLink, Coast Mountain and BC Transit looked to barrier designs in cities that already use shields, like Toronto and New York. Four different designs were put into service for testing before this final one was chosen.
The barrier will be installed at a cost of $5,000 each on the next fleet of about 100 new buses within the year, retrofitted onto six trolleys and another 200 buses already on the road, by 2019.
TransLink officials said they expect to have barriers installed in 75 per cent of buses by 2027.