– Shielding bus drivers

Burnaby New Leader

COMMENTARY

Last week’s vicious attack of a bus driver on Canada Way in Burnaby has Coast Mountain Bus Company contemplating adding shields to protect drivers from passengers.

It’s sad it’s come to this. Extremely sad.

Bus drivers have long been the target of vitriol spewed at them for perceived wrongdoing after perceived wrongdoing. Whatever the customer is upset about is something the driver rarely has any control over, but they bear the brunt of the anger.

Most of the time they find the fortitude to let it roll off their backs. But increasingly the verbal attacks have turned physical. While the company is beefing up its video surveillance, there are also plans in the works to install shields on a trial basis.

Coast Mountain is trying to find a shield that works with all its buses. The company plans to have a pilot project soon, but the problem is WorkSafeBC insists it must be consistent and put them in all of their buses.

That’s a large expense in this time of deep lacerations to all sorts of budgets, particularly those in transportation because so many projects are sorely needed.

It just doesn’t seem right in a service industry to have to isolate employees from customers. But as the number of attacks escalates (115 in 2009 by mid-September compared to 102 during the same time in 2008), and the severity of the attacks escalates as well, it’s a move that has to be considered.

What’s wrong with people? Rage is getting to be an acceptable emotion and that’s disgusting.

Maybe the media is to blame, at least partially, but there has to be a change of attitude.

Sadly, that’s not about to happen. That’s why measures like shields for bus drivers are going to continue to be proposed. In this case it will be the taxpayers and the transit riders that will have to pay the price to ensure the safety of bus drivers which, of course, should be paramount.

It’s terribly unfortunate it appears requiring them to work in a bubble is the only way to provide that protection.

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