Metro Installing Polycarbonate Shields to Protect Bus Operators

Metro's new bus operator security barrier. In this photo the opaque black lower barrier is shut. The upper transparent barrier is open. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Metro’s new bus operator security barrier. In this photo, the opaque black lower barrier is shut. The upper transparent barrier is open. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Numerous speakers at Metro’s press conference this morning went to great length to assure the public that “the Metro system is safe.” Nonetheless, the speakers focused on the number of crimes, foremost including assaults on bus operators, that take place on transit in Los Angeles. Metro reports that operators were assaulted by passengers 138 times in 2014.

“We’re fighting back,” proclaimed Metro Boardmember and Lakewood City Councilmember Diane DuBois.

Today’s press event focused on the on-bus hardware. Metro has been installing closed-circuit television monitors since November, 2014.

Today marks the beginning of the agency’s roll-out of new polycarbonate safety barriers.

These barriers don’t photograph all that well. Basically, they are two-level Dutch doors that hinge on the pole (immediately on the operator’s right) and extend to the fare box. The lower door is opaque black. The upper door is see-through, basically “bullet-proof glass.”

The upper transparent half of Metro's new security barriers
The upper transparent half of Metro’s new security barriers
The press getting a look at Metro's new operator security barriers
The press getting a look at Metro’s new operator security barriers

Barriers are already installed in a handful of buses in service today. The barriers are now standard in new buses the agency receives, including 123 buses that Metro will receive through mid-2015.

Additional new Metro bus operator safety measures include an ad campaign, “Meet Metro’s Best,” a “Transit Ambassador” operator training program, and operator lapel pins that read, “Mutual Respect.”

On the legislative front, Metro is working with State Senator Bob Huff to pass S.B. 391, which would triple criminal penalties for individuals who assault transit operations personnel.

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