Safety screens for Vic

Every passenger bus in Victoria will be fitted with perspex security screens and loop barriers to protect drivers from the risk of violent assault following an industry push.

Safety screens for Vic
Safety screen for drivers will be installed in all Victorian route buses.

It is expected the full roll-out of new security screens on about 2000 existing buses will cost an estimated $10 million, to be split evenly between the state authority Public Transport Victoria and operators. All new buses that enter service will also have screens fitted.

Transport Workers Union  Victorian and Tasmanian Victorianbranch secretary John Berger says it was pleasing that a process started by the organisation in 2010 following an attack on a Dandenong bus driver and recent attacks have forced authorities to better protect drivers.

BusVic has also advocated for the initiative for a number of years.

"These measures are a direct result of a considerable effort by the TWU on behalf of our honest and hard-working members," Berger says.

"Like every other worker across society, bus drivers deserve the right to go to work and return home each day, safe and free from unprovoked and cowardly physical and verbal assaults.

"I want to recognise the tireless work of our bus organisers Mike McNess, Bob Lean and Imran Malik and also our delegates and members for sticking together and fighting hard for this important win.

I would also like to thank PTV, the State Government and bus operators for supporting the TWU-driver safety program.

"I actually feel a great relief for all bus drivers and commuters that the authorities are finally beginning to understand what the TWU have been saying for all these years."

Discussions will continue with all industry stakeholders in a bid to have separate driver cabins, similar to those already in trams, installed in buses and mandatory minimum penalties introduced for those found guilty of assaulting bus drivers.

More than 100 Victorian bus drivers have been physically-assaulted and 33 verbally-abused, including racially-vilified since 2011, according to Transport Safety Victoria.

There has also been a change in driver touch-on obligations.

"If a bus driver does not feel safe requesting a particular passenger to touch on, they don’t have to and all operators have now been instructed to adopt this uniform position," Berger says.

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