Here's What Brampton's Doing About Violence Against Bus Drivers

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Brampton Transit is one of the fastest growing transit agencies in Canada, with unprecented growth in ridership each year. That’s all well and good, but it looks like Brampton’s buses aren’t always a smooth ride for everyone.

Brampton Transit drivers have been on the receiving end of harassment, according to the City of Brampton.

Recently, Brampton City Council passed a motion to install safety shields on every Brampton Transit bus in response to an uptick in assaults and threats against Brampton Transit bus drivers.

The City is set to invest $2.5 million on safety shields for transit operators.

All new buses will also have safety shields installed around the driver’s area to combat this growing issue.

According to the City, there are a growing number of transit systems that already have, or are in the process of installing or piloting, operator shields, so this step is in line with other major cities.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) installed safety shields in 2008, and they now exist on the system’s entire fleet of almost 2,000 buses.

Transit is a very safe way to travel; however, many frontline operators have been subjected to assault while in the course of their regular duties by a small segment of riders,” read recent Council documents.

It’s true that criminal offences and assaults against Brampton Transit operators are on the rise.

In fact, in 2017 alone, Brampton Transit recorded the highest rate of criminal offences against operators in over five years, with total offences increasing by 64 per cent from 2013-2017.

In the first quarter of 2018, there were 18 of these offences. According to the City, that could grow to 72 offences by the end of the year.

And assaults increased by 25 per cent over 2016, and by 10 per cent from 2013-2017. There were seven assaults in the first quarter of 2018, which would annualize to 28 assaults.

Graph courtesy of the City of Brampton

In the graph above, the blue bars represent all criminal offences against Brampton Transit operators to the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA). The red bars depict the results of the four types of criminal assault offences as reported to CUTA.

What does this mean?

According to the City of Brampton, approximately once a month an operator has been assaulted and almost once a week an operator has been assaulted or threatened over the past five years.

“As a result of these types of incidents, some of our operators have been injured requiring hospitalization and months of physical therapy and/or counselling to deal with the trauma of the event,” reads the report.
The safety shields have already been piloted on several Brampton Transit buses.

According to the City, prototype shields were first installed on six buses in 2015.

And in May 2018, Brampton Transit conducted a survey amongst drivers to gauge their support for the shields to an overwhelming response.

A total of 53 per cent of operators responded, and of those, 83 per cent either supported or strongly supported installing the shields.

The shield has been designed to Brampton's requirements based on over two years of in service operation,” reads the report.

How does it work?

The shield restricts intentional or unintentional access by customers to the operator’s area. The shields are designed to reduce the severity of, and where possible, prevent certain types of assaults from occurring in the first place. No shield will prevent 100 per cent of assaults from occurring.”

AROW Global Corp. has been selected to design and install the slider-style shields, which close and latch like a car door. The upper portion can be adjusted to either halfway or entirely closed.

An official timeline has not yet been confirmed, but we could see more shields installed by 2020.

Cover photo courtesy of Brampton Transit on Facebook

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