The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City Transit (NYCT) and Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU) released several proposals to increase bus operator safety in the wake of the murder of Edwin Thomas and a rash of bus operator assaults earlier this month. The proposals are the product of the joint management-union Bus Operator Action Committee (BOAC).
Among the new initiatives is the development of a bus operator compartment partition that will physically separate bus drivers from passengers. The partitions will be tested in a pilot program at the Flatbush Depot, where bus operator Thomas worked. Partitions are currently being used or tested in Chicago (600 in-service; 488 additional being purchased); Washington, D.C. (three test buses); Milwaukee and
Baltimore(40 test buses).
In addition to the pilot program for partitions, NYCT and TWU Local 100 are considering whether modifications in fare policy might reduce the potential for assaults. Also under consideration is introducing automated passenger communication on buses and eliminating the requirement for bus operators to initiate potentially confrontational conversations with passengers who may have evaded the farebox.
Moreover, NYCT and TWU Local 100 are set to overhaul training procedures for bus operators in order to minimize passenger confrontation. Operators who work on routes with high rates of assaults will receive priority training. NYCT is also set to install larger "Bus Operator Assault Felony" stickers, which convey that it is a felony in New York State to assault a bus operator.