Downtown Trail bus exchange, Sept. 16. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Downtown Trail bus exchange, Sept. 16. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Trail Transit drivers to get more security

Full driver doors coming for 12 public transit buses

In efforts to increase safety for drivers of public buses, BC Transit is investing $6.5 million to install full driver doors on fleets across the province.

For Trail Transit, that means 12 of 16 buses will eventually have transparent doors shielding the drivers with panels of laminated tempered glass, coated with anti-glare material, and fitted into a metal base.

(The four vehicles not being outfitted are “handyDART” buses. These are accessible, door-to-door shared transit service vehicles for people with permanent or temporary disabilities that prevent them from using fixed-route transit without assistance from another person.)

Historically, disputes between drivers and passengers in this region are nominal. That said, all prevention tactics for the coming years will be gladly received, says general manager Trevor Stach.

“We do not have a substantial issue with driver conflicts or assaults currently, however we welcome this improvement to driver safety,” Stach told the Times. “Driver assaults industry-wide are on the rise and are a substantial concern for us as operators of public transit,” he said.

“The industry is moving this way and has been for years with most large urban centers having full doors or completely separate drivers compartments. These separations are also standard on major systems throughout Europe.”

New doors for drivers will add to the security already in place on city buses, which is real-time surveillance on CCTV (closed-circuit television).

“(This) has proved to be a valuable tool in investigating injuries and/or incidents,” said Stach. “And we do not have a full driver door in any of our buses, currently. The design of the door that will be installed in our buses will have a sliding window that the driver can operate to reduce the barrier between the driver and passengers.”

While there is no timeline in place for the Trail fleet, Stach speculated it would be later in BC Transit’s implementation cycle as the larger systems are the priority.

BC Transit announced it was moving forward with a multi-million dollar full driver door project last week.

AROW Global has been selected to design and manufacture the new doors for high capacity buses (double deckers), heavy duty buses which are regular 40-foot transit buses, and medium-duty buses.

“It is designed to increase protection for our drivers,” BC Transit stated. The first buses with the full driver door will arrive in late 2019.”

A further 650 buses in the provincial fleet will be retrofitted with full driver doors next year.

Buses scheduled for replacement within two years will not have the full driver door installed; instead, the replacement bus will be fully equipped.