Renewed interest in using plastic shields to protect bus drivers
The idea of using plastic shields to protect bus drivers is being revisited, with bus drivers now facing the risk of the coronavirus as well as potentially unruly passengers.
The issue of transport workers and their safety has been in the spotlight recently after incidents of bus drivers being abused by unruly commuters while trying to enforce Covid-19 regulations.
The National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) executive secretary Melvin Yong said the idea of installing a protective barrier is not new.
In 2018, NTWU worked with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and various public transport operators to trial plastic shields in buses for six months to protect bus drivers from potential hijacks or assaults.
But the plan was eventually scrapped after the bus drivers gave feedback that the plastic screens reflected light, which affected their visibility and compromised on safety.
In June this year, SBS Transit started doing another trial for a different type of plastic shield to protect bus captains from Covid-19.
An LTA spokesman said that SMRT has also indicated its interest in trialling protective shields to safeguard bus captains against Covid-19.
And a spokesman for Tower Transit said that while it currently does not have shields installed, it will support recommendations from NTWU as well as LTA to help keep its staff safe.
Mr Yong said NTWU is exploring the idea of using shields for the dual purpose of protecting bus captains from both Covid-19 and assault.
Mr Yong said: "One aspect we're looking at is to improve or use a different material so as to reduce the glare from the plastic shields."
He added that another aspect is having to consider the convenience of getting in and out of the seat as bus captains still have to help those with disabilities board the bus.
Mr Yong said: "While there are options available in the market, we will need to explore the feasibility of installing these in our existing buses.
"NTWU will work with LTA and the (public transport operators) to study the various options available, and once there is a good prototype, we will look at scaling and implementing it in the buses."