WINNIPEG – Driver safety shields are being added to six transit buses in Winnipeg to see how the barriers work.
The city says the pilot project will last at least six months so drivers have time to provide feedback on which of two shield designs is the best.
Several security changes were announced in the city’s 2018 budget after a transit driver was attacked by a passenger last February.
Irvine Jubal Fraser, who was 58, died after he was stabbed multiple times.
The bus had reached the end of the line late at night and Fraser was trying to remove the man, who had been sleeping at the back of the bus.
Other proposed safety measures include additional transit security and point duty inspectors.
In June, someone threw a large piece of concrete at a transit driver and hit him in the head. The driver was not badly hurt.
The cost to buy and install each shield could be as much as $5,000. Depending on the results, all 600 transit buses could be equipped with shields.
“A growing city like Winnipeg needs an efficient, well-functioning, and safe transit service,” Mayor Brian Bowman said in a release Friday.
The transit union did not show up for the annoucement. It says the city is moving too slow on bus safety, and didn’t want to be part of what it called a photo opporturnity.
“They’re making it out to be a big deal and make a big show out of it, and as far as we’re concerned it’s a very small baby step towards what has to be done,” said Aleem Chaudhrey, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505.
Peter Bird, who takes the bus, says drivers put up with a lot, and he was in favour of the shields.
“The bus driver would feel safer, instead of getting into an altercation with someone who’s being disruptive to the bus driver or getting spit on,” said Bird.
—With files from CTV Winnipeg