SA rolls out innovative protective screens to shield bus drivers from violence

South Australian bus drivers to receive enhanced safety with new protective screens aimed at preventing assaults. The state-wide initiative will see the installation of robust security barriers on 940 buses over the next four years.

South Australian bus drivers are set to receive enhanced protection through the implementation of innovative protective screens designed to shield them from violent and anti-social behaviours by passengers. This initiative, announced by Tom Koutsantonis, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, represents a significant step towards improving safety for public transport workers.

The decision to introduce these screens follows a comprehensive testing phase, which saw seven different screen designs trialled on over 40 buses across the network. Drivers were given the opportunity to provide their feedback on two shortlisted options through QR codes, and a working group, including drivers, operators, and representatives from the Transport Workers Union, and were instrumental in selecting the final design.

About 940 buses under the Adelaide Metro banner will see the installation of these new security screens over the next four years. The tendering process to find a suitable supplier is currently underway, with installations expected to commence later this year.

The protective screen itself is constructed from robust materials including stainless-steel frames and up to 9.5mm thick polycarbonate panels. This design ensures that the screen remains firmly in place, even if subjected to force, while providing drivers with clear visibility of mirrors, doors, and the windscreen. These features are crucial for maintaining safety without hindering the operational duties of bus drivers.

Tom Koutsantonis highlighted the alarming rise in assaults against bus drivers, with incidents increasing from 76 in the previous year to 95 in the last 12 months. He condemned these acts of violence, stating, “This is appalling – people who assault bus drivers are scumbags and are committing an aggravated offence that can see them jailed.”

The implementation of these screens has been applauded by various stakeholders, with the Bus Industry Confederation recognising the initiative as nation-leading.

“This has been a long time coming and we appreciate the feedback and patience of drivers and other stakeholders in formulating the best possible design,” said Koutsantonis.

Currently, all government-owned buses are equipped with a three-quarter length driver screen, which provides partial protection. However, the new full-length screens will offer a higher level of security, aiming to extensively shield drivers from potential harm.

The protective screens are part of a broader effort by the state government to enhance public transport safety, ensuring that drivers can perform their duties in a secure environment. This initiative not only benefits the drivers but also supports the overall safety and efficiency of the public transport system.

The rollout of these screens is anticipated to make significant improvements in the working conditions for bus drivers, offering them much-needed protection in their daily interactions with the public.

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