Regina committee approves proposal for $2.5M in bus safety upgrades
City would pay $656,505, with rest coming from province and federal government
Regina's executive committee has approved its potential contribution to a proposed $2.5-million program to increase bus driver safety in the city. The proposal will now go to Regina's city council on March 10 for final approval.
In November 2020, the city applied for funding under the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream for two upgrades: permanent bus driver shields and spots on buses where people with mobility issues could secure themselves without driver assistance.
Buses currently are equipped with vinyl barriers, however city administration said the shields would help in multiple ways.
"It's definitely something that will protect the health and safety of the driver, but it will also make sure that opportunity or interaction of physical altercation potentially occurring will no longer exist," Chris Holden, city manager, said.
City administration says there are other benefits to the mobility station. Drivers won't to come out of their shields and take time to help the person secure themself. That can help keep buses on time, the city said.
"It does provide a level of independence," Holden said.
The total cost would be $2,571,177, with 40 per cent from the federal government, 33.3 per cent from the provincial government and 26.7 per cent — $656,505 — from the city. If city council approves, the program would then need to also be approved by the provincial and federal governments.
It just seems to be getting a little bit more dangerous out there all the time.- Kevin Lucier, ATU 588 president
Kevin Lucier, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 588, said the upgrades are long overdue. ATU 588 represents more than 200 Regina Transit employees.
"We were incredibly happy to receive this and we feel it's long overdue, but very welcomed," Lucier said.
He said the shields are needed beyong the COVID-19 pandemic after assaults on drivers. He said a driver was assaulted in Regina just last week over a fare dispute and that there have been four assaults since last March.
"It just seems to be getting a little bit more dangerous out there all the time," he said. "Every employee, every worker has the right to feel safe at work and an ability to get home at the end of their day safely."
Lucier said the union has been having ongoing discussions with councillors and expects this proposal to pass at both executive committee and city council.