A BC Transit driver was assaulted by a male passenger in January in North Saanich. Another was robbed in August in Central Saanich.

In both incidents, a protective barrier could have prevented the incidents and protected the drivers. That's why BC Transit is installing a full driver door designed to increase protection for transit operators.

"We do believe some of those assaults would not have happened if these barriers would have already been installed," said Unifor Local 333 BC president Ben Williams. "The reality is the operator should be able to go to work, provide the safe and efficient service that they do without fear of not being able to go home to their families."

BC Transit has contracted Arow Global Corporation to design and manufacture full driver doors for the entire fleet of high-capacity buses (double deckers), heavy duty buses (regular 40-foot transit buses), and medium duty buses across the province. The company is also scanning buses to create three-dimensional digital models for use in designing the full driver doors for specific bus types.

"The principal benefit is it really protects an operator from a blind assault," said Arow Global Corporation representative Tom Klos. "They can at least see it coming and they can have an opportunity to protect themselves rather than be surprised from behind."

In Victoria, 186 buses will be retrofitted with full protective doors to increase the level of safety for transit operators. The full driver door includes a transparent piece of laminated tempered glass with anti-glare coating and a metal base. The full driver door windows can be adjusted to account for sightlines associated with different seat positions.

"There have been unfortunate circumstances that have led to this decision to install the full driver door on buses," said BC Transit communications manager Jonathan Dyck. "We want to increase that safety level for our operators, we want to make sure our employees are coming to work and working in a safe environment."

Each bus will cost BC Transit approximately $10,000 to retrofit. Arow Global is undertaking trial installations on two buses.

In total, 288 buses are scheduled to have the full driver door installed through retrofit or factory installation as busses are replaced. Buses scheduled for replacement within two years will not have the full driver door installed, but, the replacement buses will be equipped with the full driver door. The first buses with the full driver door will arrive in late 2019.