Regina’s executive committee is set to debate a $2.5-million program to increase bus driver safety in the city.
In November 2020, the city applied for funding under the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream for two upgrades: permanent bus driver shields and spots on buses where people with mobility issues could secure themselves without driver assistance.
“These projects will increase physical distancing between bus operators and passengers. As well, the driver shields reduce the risk of physical altercations between operators and passengers,” city administration said in a report.
The total cost would be $2,571,177, with 40 per cent from the federal government, 33.3 per cent from the provincial government and 26.7 per cent — $656,505 — from the city. City council approval is needed to move ahead on the project.
It just seems to be getting a little bit more dangerous out there all the time.– Kevin Lucier, ATU 588 president
Kevin Lucier, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 588, said the upgrades are long overdue. ATU 588 represents more than 200 Regina Transit employees.
“We were incredibly happy to receive this and we feel it’s long overdue, but very welcomed,” Lucier said.
He said the shields will be useful long after the COVID-19 pandemic and that it boils down to operator safety. He said a driver was assaulted in Regina just last week over a fare dispute and that there have been four assaults since last March.
“It just seems to be getting a little bit more dangerous out there all the time,” he said.
“Every employee, every worker has the right to feel safe at work and an ability to get home at the end of their day safely.”
Lucier said the union has been having ongoing discussions with councillors and expects this proposal to pass at both executive committee and city council.