Management & Operations

Agencies Take Steps to Protect Drivers

Posted on February 5, 2009 by METRO Staff

After recent bus system attacks, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit (NYCT) and Canada’s Winnipeg Transit are looking to make policy changes and increase security to protect bus operators.

In New York, the Bus Operator Action Committee (BOAC) — a joint collaboration of NYCT management and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 — suggested several changes following the fatal assault of one of its bus drivers, Edwin Thomas.

In December 2008, Thomas was repeatedly stabbed by a man after confronting him for fare evasion. TWU officials say this is the type of thing that happens all too often.

“The union has pushed for safety rules to protect operators for quite a while,” said Jesse Derris, a TWU spokesperson. “There’s always a problem when it comes to confronting a passenger who doesn’t pay the fare. Unfortunately, it causes conflict and that’s when these unfortunate incidents take place.”

To help better protect bus operators, the BOAC made several suggestions, including the addition of cameras and driver partitions, which would physically separate bus drivers from passengers. At this time, however, it is unclear when, or if, any of these changes will take place.

“Partitions are something that we’re looking into, but we are not at the implementation stage just yet,” said Paul Fleuranges, an NYCT spokesperson. “If we do it, it’ll be a pilot at the Flatbush Depot, where Mr. Thomas was a driver.”

Fleuranges adds that there are still several concerns that need to be addressed, including finding a partition that doesn’t compromise the HVAC system or the manufacturers’ guarantee and finding something that wouldn’t make it difficult for the driver to exit the bus in the case of an accident or other emergency.

Driver partitions are currently being used by transit systems throughout the world, with pilot projects taking place in some U.S. cities, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee. According to Bentech Inc., a manufacturer of driver partitions, the cost ranges from $240 to $500 each.

From January 1 to December 9, 2008, there were 236 bus driver assaults on the NYCT’s system, 43 of which involved fare evasion and 67 involving someone spitting at a driver.

New York does have a law on the books that makes it a felony to assault a bus driver that carries with it a potential seven-year prison sentence, but Fleuranges explains that there is a gray area between assault and misdemeanor, which they are working to change.

“One of the problems is the way the law is written now, the level of assault has to rise to a felony, it can’t be a simple misdemeanor assault,” he said. “That’s why we want to change the law to make it stronger, so that if an operator’s assaulted physically, it doesn’t matter the level of physical injury they have to sustain.”

To help combat its problems, Winnipeg Transit has begun outfitting its fleet of 535 buses with audio- and video-recording systems; the cost will total approximately $3 million.

“We have about 260 vehicles in our fleet outfitted right now, and the rest will be installed by the end of 2009,” said Dave Wardrop, director for Winnipeg Transit.

In addition to the surveillance systems, the transit system is also improving its radio communication systems, has GPS installed on all vehicles and works with local authorities to prosecute criminals to the fullest extent of the law.

Winnipeg Transit experiences approximately 30 assaults of bus drivers per year, with one incident in January sending a driver to the hospital after he and two passengers were attacked by three would-be muggers.

“Our major concern is for the safety of our passengers and drivers,” said Wardrop. “The expectation is that our increased security measures will act as a deterrent and also assist with prosecution.”

Winnipeg Transit has also received a request from the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) to add driver partitions and is looking into it.

“The partitions provide additional safety, but also impede the driver’s ability to interact with the customers,” Wardrop said. “We have to weigh the advantages of the safety shields against the customer service aspects, and the ATU agrees with that.”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

SEPTA, Uber partner to solve first mile, last mile issues in suburbs

Under the partnership, which will run from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, Uber rides to and from 11 selected Regional Rail stations will be discounted by 40%, with a maximum discount of $10 per ride.

$27 Billion, 5-Year New York MTA capital program gets final approval

The passage marks the largest investment in MTA infrastructure in state history and outlines five years’ worth of vital investments to renew, enhance and expand the MTA network.

MBTA GM DePaola to retire, citing cancer fight

His accomplishments as GM include improving service for MBTA riders, designing and implementing an $83 million Winter Resiliency program and ensuring that the renovation of Government Center Station was completed on time and on budget.

D.C. Metro fires 20 managers

The agency declined to specify what departments the fired managers worked in or what any of the managers’ individual job responsibilities were, however according to reports one-third worked in subway operations.

INIT set to break ground on new Chesapeake, Va. headquarters

The facility will eventually house INIT’s growing office staff, their two manufacturing firms and a large warehouse.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close