Transperth ramps up security after driver attacks

By: Jason Whittaker

A Police blitz on "hot spots", increased security patrols on buses and the mandatory use of buses fitted with driver

A Police blitz on "hot spots", increased security patrols on buses and the mandatory use of buses fitted with driver security screens were named as immediate responses to increased violence against drivers, a Western Australia Public Transport Authority (PTA) spokesman told ABC.

The PTA is again in talks today with the Western Australian Transport Workers’ Union, local Police, the PTA’s contracted security company and PTA public transport contractors, Southern Coast Transit, Swan Transit and Path Transit.

Representatives from the various bodies met on Monday (August 3) to discuss measures to protect drivers, which include increased security patrols.

"We’re stepping those [patrols] up and are looking at the possibility of stepping them up further," the PTA spokesman says.

The PTA contracts a private security company to undertake both static and mobile security checks. In addition to foot patrols at major bus stations and interchanges, security officers will undertake mobile patrols.

"Sometimes they’ll shadow buses," the PTA spokesman says. "Other times they will just drift around in a general area. Or if there’s a problem, they go to it, whether that’s on a bus, or at a bus station."

All Transperth buses travelling after 7 pm will now be equipped with fitted driver security screens.

"At the moment every bus we have which goes out after 8 pm has a driver security screen, a mesh screen," the spokesman says. "We’re immediately going to bring that back to 7 pm … [with] the possibility of bringing it back to 6 pm or sunset – whichever is earliest."

The roll-out of driver-protected buses at an earlier time could not happen immediately, the spokesman says.

"We think that would require the installation of extra screens because it comes back into a time when we’re at the back end of peak," he says.

"There are quite considerable rostering issues to consider. To have screened buses on the road at 6 pm, it may be necessary to introduce them at 1 or 2 pm when the drivers come on shift. We’re looking at the logistics of that."

Today’s meeting will discuss the design of the security screens.

"We know for a fact that lots of our drivers don’t like the screens," the spokesman says, adding that some drivers refused to drive buses fitted with them.

"One of the things we’re saying, is: ‘from 7 pm, you don’t have a choice. You might not like it but for your own safety, it’s required that you have a screen’."

Proponents at today’s meeting will report back on the options discussed on Monday: "Here are the ideas that were floated, and here are the sums, in terms of resources, timings, timeframes and so on," the spokesman says.

"In terms of the design of the screens, the radio protocols, the rostering issues, they’re things we need to look at – look at the logistics and the costings and the timings – as did the police and the contracting companies," he says.

"We’re looking at balance here – what’s practical and what’s really necessary."

Previous stories:
Industry, govt, Union meet over escalating bus violence
TWU calls drivers to action after attacks

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