Brampton council has approved a $2.5 million initiative aimed at safeguarding the city’s bus drivers.
At its June 27 meeting, council unanimously gave Brampton Transit the green light to install transit operator safety shields across its fleet of 422 buses.
According to a Brampton Transit report given to council, incidents of assault and other criminal behaviours directed at drivers have grown substantially over the past few years.
While transit in Brampton remains a very safe option for riders — with a relatively low incident rate compared to the more than 27 million customers serviced in 2017 — recent statistics show a troubling trend as it related to driver safety.
“The numbers are not getting better, they are in fact getting worse,” director of transit Vince Rodo told council. “For Brampton Transit, over the last five years, about once a month an operator gets assaulted, and about once a week an operator is either assaulted or has some pretty severe threats lodged against them.”
Between 2013 and 2016, there was an average of 31 crimes committed against drivers, including an average of 13 assaults per year. The highest number of incidents over that time came in 2013 with 40. In 2017 alone, there were 64 crimes reported including 15 assaults.
The upward trend seen last year has continued into 2018.
“Results so far in 2018 mirror 2017 in total (incidents of crime), but if we look at the number of assaults so far this year, that would calendarize to about 30 assaults by the end of the year. So, it’s significantly grown as an issue for us and our employees,” Rodo said.
“Every employee has the right to a safe workplace,” he added.
In light of the recent spike in crime and assaults, Brampton Transit established a joint Operator Assault Task Force earlier in the year in conjunction with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1573, which represents Brampton’s transit workers.
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