Mass Transit - 25

TRACS came up with several
recommendations such as installing safety shields, security cameras and automatic vehicle location
systems; providing de-escalation
training; and educating the public
about reporting assaults.
Since these recommendations
were published in 2015, many
transit agencies, such as the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and Palm Tran, have
installed safety shields on buses
and invested in new safety and
de-escalation training to better
safeguard their employees.

Equipment providing
safe barriers

PSTA chose to invest $1.2 million
from its capital reserve fund to install safety shields on 100 percent
of its fleet, a first for the region,
after HART Bus Operator Thomas Dunn was killed on his bus in
PSTA's neighboring county.
"We had been working with
our employees and we had test
modeled a safety shield for our
bus about a year prior to the
murder...and then that happened, and our employees came
to me right away and said they
didn't feel safe," said PSTA CEO
Brad Miller. "So, we immediately
fast-tracked a procurement and
decided right then and there that
we were going to have to give our
employees peace of mind and
put a shield on 100 percent of
our fleet."
Since PSTA had already been
prototyping one option, employees had the chance to provide
feedback on what they liked and
didn't like prior to the procurement. While there were pluses
and minuses, Miller says PSTA
employees went from a somewhat mixed review of the prototype to 100 percent supportive
of it overnight following Dunn's
death. PSTA also conducted research on different models other
agencies were using. By the end
of May 2019, PSTA, along with
HART employees, gathered to

collectively decide on which safety shield they wanted.
"[The operators] were thankful we sought their input," Miller
said. "They gave a ton of input on
exactly the design features in the
shields that we ended up buying,
so it's been very positive since
last January when we actually
ordered them."
The safety shield they decided on is a two-part shield from
AROW Global that has an opaque
solid bottom with a tempered,
sliding glass window halfway up,
which can extend from the back
of the driver's barrier to the fare
box, completely walling off the
operator from a customer. The
sliding window allows for easier
communication.
"It certainly limits the ability
of a person to reach around and
touch the operator in any way,"
Miller said. "There's no shield that
can prevent everything, but this
is what we as an agency all agreed
was the best option."
Palm Tran also plans to make
a major investment in safety
shields, or as they call them, "Operator Office Doors," after receiving requests from bus operators
due to concerns that someone
could physically touch them.
Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes explains
the agency sent out a survey to
get operator input, adding that
Palm Tran will be installing the
operator office doors this year.
"That's a more than $1-million investment to install more
than 160 operator office doors
on our fixed-route fleet," Forbes
said. "[The operators] are excited
about it."

Adding safety tools to
the operator's toolbox

Equipment is just one aspect of
ensuring bus operator safety.
Palm Tran has seen a reduction in
preventable, nonpreventable and
passenger incidents, which Forbes
credits in part to the safety culture
that's been established throughout

PSTA

the organization. Creating a safety
culture that everyone buys into, in
turn, creates a safer work environment for bus operators.
Forbes explains it started with
communication by ensuring
Palm Tran's mission is aligned
with safety and is ubiquitous
throughout the organization.
One way this is accomplished
is through the monthly safety
message, which serves as general
safety reminders for best practices when operating a vehicle. Past
safety messages have touched on
how to approach railroad tracks,
how to operate safely in a school
zone and how to safely enter a
gated community.
"A lot of these safety messages
are driven by what we're seeing
out there," said Joe Harrington,
senior manager of public relations
at Palm Tran.
Forbes adds how he believes
bus operators have really bought
into the safety messages.
"Some of the safety messages
originate from bus operators,"

THE SLIDING
glass window
on a safety
shield improves
operator safety
and preserves
communication
with passengers.

FEBRUARY 2020 | MassTransitmag.com | Mass Transit |

25


http://www.MassTransitmag.com

Mass Transit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass Transit

Ad Index
Editor's Notebook: What's the Secret to Quality Leadership?
People & Places
NRC Chairman's Column
SporTran's Bold Vision for Northwest Louisiana Transit
2020 Mobility Outlook
Investing in a Peace of Mind
Combatting Distracted Communities to Boost Rail Safety
Modernizing the Message
Products
Social Hubs
Mass Transit - 1
Mass Transit - 2
Mass Transit - 3
Mass Transit - 4
Mass Transit - 5
Mass Transit - Ad Index
Mass Transit - 7
Mass Transit - Editor's Notebook: What's the Secret to Quality Leadership?
Mass Transit - 9
Mass Transit - People & Places
Mass Transit - 11
Mass Transit - NRC Chairman's Column
Mass Transit - 13
Mass Transit - SporTran's Bold Vision for Northwest Louisiana Transit
Mass Transit - 15
Mass Transit - 16
Mass Transit - 17
Mass Transit - 18
Mass Transit - 19
Mass Transit - 2020 Mobility Outlook
Mass Transit - 21
Mass Transit - 22
Mass Transit - 23
Mass Transit - Investing in a Peace of Mind
Mass Transit - 25
Mass Transit - 26
Mass Transit - 27
Mass Transit - Combatting Distracted Communities to Boost Rail Safety
Mass Transit - 29
Mass Transit - 30
Mass Transit - 31
Mass Transit - Modernizing the Message
Mass Transit - 33
Mass Transit - 34
Mass Transit - 35
Mass Transit - Products
Mass Transit - 37
Mass Transit - Social Hubs
Mass Transit - 39
Mass Transit - 40
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