MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Metro Transit has been busy installing new safety measures to keep drivers safe while on their routes.
Several disturbing videos of Metro Transit bus drivers have surfaced and gone viral in the last month, but sometimes those frightening scenes are a reality for the 1,500 drivers who operate bus routes across the metro.
Employee safety was a key point during negotiations over the latest contract between Metro Transit and the union. Following the negotiations, Plexiglas and bulletproof shields were installed on 21 buses as a part of a new pilot program that was launched to keep drivers safe.
“This is one of several models that we are testing—this model as we have demonstrated has sliding glass which is good, it provides you good access when you need to see your mirrors while making turns,” said Brian Funk, Deputy Chief of Bus Operations.
According to Funk, bus drivers have given the new safety shield mixed reviews. Some drivers like the extra protection. Others find it interferes with the personal connection they have with long-time riders.
There are several other versions of the safety devices Metro Transit is testing. Some buses will be equipped with glass that goes all the way to the windshield, completely covering the driver.
“It buys you, the operator, a little bit of time so that you’re able to use our radio system to communicate to police dispatch, call for help and say I need somebody to come to my aid,” Funk explained.
There isn’t a firm timetable for installing safety devices on all of the 900 Metro Transit buses.
Passengers are encouraged to weigh in on how they feel about the new features.