Barriers help create a secure space for drivers and also help prevent the spread of COVID-19
The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) announced today that it has almost finished installing new protective barriers on its buses. The barriers, located next to the driver’s seat, are intended to provide protection against possible assaults on drivers and also help shield operators from exposure to COVID-19. Installation began in November, and the safety dividers are now in place on approximately 180 of RIPTA’s 232 fixed-route buses.
“The health and well-being of our operators is paramount,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer. “It is their hard work and dedication that has enabled us to continue to serve the public uninterrupted throughout the pandemic. Installing these barriers is in important step in creating a safer workspace for them.” He noted that the agency first began looking at protective options for drivers more than a year ago as part of industry-wide concern about assaults on bus and rail operators. The onset of COVID-19 made it even more imperative to find a way to create a distinct, safe space for operators. The installation of the new barriers on all fixed-route buses is expected to be completed by mid-March.
The barriers, which include a clear, polycarbonate window for communication with customers, are made by Gillig, a major American manufacturer of transit buses. At RIPTA’s request, the manufacturer had already installed the barriers on 24 new buses that the transit authority took delivery of in 2020 as part of the regular updating of its fleet. RIPTA was able to move forward with retrofitting the rest of its buses thanks to funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The federal aid includes a provision for security measures. The cost of acquiring the barriers is approximately $874,000, and the installation work is being performed by RIPTA’s mechanical staff.