Bus drivers in Winnipeg will soon have peace of mind in the form of a protective shield if the testing phase is a success.
Winnipeg Transit is exploring outfitting buses to protect its 1,100 drivers from assaults. Prototypes of the shatterproof panels have been installed in two transit buses to test how effective the shields are and to gauge feedback from both drivers and riders.
The idea has been on the mind of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 (ATU) for a while now to protect drivers from physical contact with a passenger. In 2009, 70 physical assaults on drivers were reported. About 40% of those reports involved passengers spitting or throwing an object at the operator.
Testing of the shields is expected to take several months and further evaluation may be required before there is any decision to install the devices on more buses. Part of the purpose of the trial is to research costing and to establish appropriate budgeting required. Winnipeg Transit is encouraging the public to call 311 or visit WinnipegTransit.com to let them know how they feel about the protective shields.