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New drunk driving laws raise concerns about transit safety

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Canadian Autoworkers Union says it is all for tougher drunk driving laws, but it is worried about a possible influx of rowdy passengers using late night bus service.

Don MacLeod with the union tells us bus drivers are worried about being assaulted. “If we are serious about reducing drunk driving, then we have to give those out there drinking good options to take transit.”

MacLeod believes the sparse night service needs to be improved. “I think we have to give more options to passengers that choose to leave their vehicle, park [it] and take transit.”

He says the driver is in charge of the safety of the coach. “If we have intoxicated passengers on board that are rowdy… compromising the safety of the coach, that is always a concern to our members.”

Because of those concerns, Coast Mountain Bus Company has developed a plexiglass shield designed to protect drivers.

But it might be a while before we see those shields in buses. Derek Zabel with the company says the shield is still a work in progress. “We’re still not quite there yet. There are still some glare issues. But we’ve managed to install it and it basically slides like a sliding glass door and would enclose the driver.”

He says right now they’re going around asking drivers for feedback and drivers seem to be split 50/50 on whether they like the shield. No word yet on how long it will be before it gets installed in buses.

There were 145 assaults on TransLink drivers in 2009.

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