ETS to install shields on buses to keep drivers safe

The Edmonton Transit Service is installing retractable shields on all of its buses to help protect drivers.

“We’ve been lobbying for this for over a year now, and it’s finally coming to fruition,” said Mark Tetterington, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

The shield is similar to a window on a car.

“If you feel like you’re threatened at any time, just hit the button, close ’em up. The window goes up in about probably two seconds,” Tetterington said.

They can even be programmed to go up and down at different speeds, and are difficult to break.

“Four hundred and fifty thousand pounds of torque to actually break it,” said Eddie Robar, branch manager with Edmonton Transit Service.

The new safety measure comes eight months after a driver was stabbed more than a dozen times while parked at a transit centre in Mill Woods.

“I think our operators will feel a lot more secure, a lot safer,” said Tetterington.

Council approved $22 million last fall for transit safety. Half of the money was used to purchase the shields and the rest was put into hiring additional peace officers, training for drivers, and 24/7 security at transit centres.

The head of ETS said security guards have saved several lives since starting last November.

“Making sure that trains don’t move if somebody’s in front of them, somebody falls to track level, things like that, and certainly on the mischief and vandalism front there’s a huge reduction,” said Robar.

The shields will be installed throughout the summer.

With files from Jeremy Thompson….