Protective screens for drivers trialed on public buses

Source: Today Online: 16 public buses to have protective screens for drivers in six-month trial

SINGAPORE — Sixteen public buses will be retrofitted with protective screens for drivers as part of a six-month trial to see if they are effective in shielding the drivers from harm.

The trial of the impact-resistant screens will begin by early next year, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 7). He was responding to a question by Tanjong Pagar Member of Parliament Melvin Yong, who asked if the authorities would consider installing screens to protect bus captains here and to reduce the risk of a hijacking.

The four public bus operators here – Go-Ahead Singapore, SBS Transit, SMRT Buses and Tower Transit – will be involved in the trial, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

The trial will allow the LTA to gather feedback from commuters and bus captains on the screens, which have attracted complaints in other countries relating to their “blinding glare”, said Dr Lam.

Places that have adopted protective screens for bus drivers include London in the United Kingdom and Victoria in Australia.

According to Transport for London (TfL), a local government body, bus drivers also have instant radio access to a control room that is linked to police officers. The BBC also reported in 2014 TfL had Workplace Violence Units for front-line bus and Tube staff that support the investigation of assaults on operational staff.

Last December, Australian newspaper The Age reported that passenger buses in Victoria would be fitted with security screens to protect drivers from assault. The measure would take about three years to implement on about 2,000 existing buses.

Assaults on bus captains in Singapore include incidents on Dec 31 in which three bus captains — one driving Service 93 and two others driving Service 129 — were physically assaulted by a male commuter who had boarded their buses along Bartley Road.

Bus operators here have various measures to protect their drivers.

Tower Transit previously said it was partnering with the Certis CISCO Academy to teach drivers to deal with conflicts and hostile situations, for instance.

SBS Transit’s drivers also undergo incident management courses to defuse and de-escalate conflicts, Channel NewsAsia reported in January. Its buses have an emergency button that drivers can use to alert the control centre to dispatch a traffic inspector.

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