Don Duncan, BC Transit driver for 23 years, sits in the driver seat of one of the new buses fitted with an interior door to shield the driver. (Lauren Boothby/Victoria News)

Don Duncan, BC Transit driver for 23 years, sits in the driver seat of one of the new buses fitted with an interior door to shield the driver. (Lauren Boothby/Victoria News)

Victoria bus drivers targeted for abuse

Victoria Regional Transit Commission aims to put the brakes on driver assaults

A pilot project promises to slam the door on abusive behaviour towards transit operators.

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission is one of three systems where BC Transit will test new interior doors designed to protect operators against incidents of physical and verbal assault, of which local officials have recorded 19 so far.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association, of which BC Transit is a member, defines assaults as any act of aggression physical or verbal — that hinders the driver’s ability to complete his or her scheduled run safely.

SEE: Drunk passenger assaults BC Transit workers in Victoria

So what accounts for the number of incidents? Operators interact with a wide of range of individuals, some of the whom may have consumed alcohol or drugs, while others may be dealing with mental health issues, said Saanich’s Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.

Disputes over fares often precede conflicts between bus operators and riders, said transit commission chair Susan Brice in pointing to fare changes designed to reduce disagreements, over who needs to pay how much.

Other factors contributing to conflict between operators and riders include the time of the day, and location, said Brice.

This said, any number of factors can contribute to conflict between riders and operators. “You can’t always anticipate what’s going to trigger somebody to be aggressive,” she said.

The doors rolled out Wednesday themselves consist out of metal at the bottom, and plexiglass at the top. They will give operators the option of opening it for easier communication with riders.

“We believe that this addition will give operators additional safety,” said At the time same, it will allow drivers to maintain personal contact with riders, she said.

Transit systems in Kelowna, and Abbotsford will also test the doors, each of which costs $6,000. A total of five buses across the three systems will have the new doors, with three of the buses serving Victoria riders. The buses will run on various routes across the Greater Victoria region, including Saanich.

The pilot project will last for six months, followed by a review, that will then determine whether the doors will appear across the fleet, a potentially expensive proposition. “You want to make sure you get it right,” said Brice.

The Victoria Regional Transit has a total fleet of 289 buses of several types, and handled 25.5 million trips in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

The project includes several partners, including unions, WorkSafe B.C., as well as local and provincial governments. It follows a comparable pilot project featuring BC Transit and TransLink’s Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) in the Lower Mainland launched between 2015 and 2016.

Lower Mainland transit operators report the barriers have prevented dangerous or unwanted exchanges with problem passengers, and their system is moving ahead with plans to introduce the doors across conventional buses, a task to be completed within two years, according to the WorkSafe Magazine.

The pilot project follows after several high profile incidents of attacks against bus operators around the province, including the stabbing of a Kelowna driver with a syringe. Closer to home, Saanich police five years ago arrested a teenager after he had spat on a bus driver.

The pilot project is only the latest program designed to improve the overall safety to transit riders and operators. Almost exactly a year ago, the local transit commission announced the installation of closed circuit television, a move that has improved safety, said Brice.

Overall, the pilot project is only the latest in a number of measures designed to improve safety. “This is an important step, but not the only safety measure that we are taking,” said Brice. Other measures have included driver training designed to diffuse situations, partnerships with first responders, and enhanced communication technology on board the bus, she said.

Just Posted

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Mieran Loira, who works at Moxie’s restaurant on Yates Street, was named a winner in the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association’s #StandUpForService campaign. (Courtesy Town Hall Brands)
Victoria Moxies server can’t hide her smile, earns provincial kudos for pandemic work

Personality, charisma shine despite masks, coronavirus challenges

The price of gas is way up in many parts of Greater Victoria after a Monday afternoon surge sent it to 162.9 cents per litre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gas prices surge to 162.9 cents a litre at some Greater Victoria stations

Prices jumped up more than 10 cents Monday afternoon

Swanwick Ranch in Metchosin, featuring an award-winning home on 67 acres of property overlooking the ocean, recently sold for a record-setting, yet undisclosed amount. (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada photo)
Sale of oceanfront property in Metchosin yields new record for Greater Victoria

Listed at $14.1 million, Swanwick Ranch sold to an undisclosed buyer

Research into the city of Victoria’s economic recovery through the pandemic shows things to be moving in the right direction. (Photo courtesy City of Victoria)
Data shows Victoria experiencing gradual economic recovery

Statistics for early 2021 show promising returns as Victoria 3.0 begins to take hold

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Most Read