JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A proposed bill in Florida would seek the potential installation of protective barriers on buses, de-escalation training for drivers and signs on all public transit buses warning passengers that it’s a felony to assault transit workers.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority installed shields on it’s entire fleet last year.
“I think it’s the comfort level of protecting their blind side and the barriers are designed, as you’ll see, when you get on the bus so that the operator still has the ability to communicate with our customers,” said Lisa Darnell, Vice President of Transportation Operations.
The push for increased safety measures comes after a Tampa bus driver was attacked and killed last year.
In Jacksonville, a News4Jax I-TEAM investigation in October found dozens of reported attacks on JTA bus drivers since 2014, including reports of drivers being spit on, punched and held at gunpoint.
Dwayne Russell is the president of the Amagulated Transit Union, representing many drivers.
“This bill actually helps everybody. It helps the operators and helps our passengers also,” said Russell.
Russell said the measures outlined in the bill are preventative and critical to ensure driver safety.
JTA has taken several other proactive measures to improve safety for drivers on top of installing the protective barriers. They also have signs on their buses reminding passengers of the penalty for harming drivers.