Collier Area Transit buses to obtain safety barriers to protect drivers

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Driven by a stabbing death in Hillsborough County, permanent safety gates will soon be installed on buses to protect Collier Area Transit bus drivers.

Collier County commissioners approved a deal earlier this month that kicked off the permanent security barriers project.

The county has started reviewing safety gates for bus drivers after a bus driver died in Tampa, said Michelle Arnold, director of Collier County Public Transit and Neighborhood Enhancement.

“They had, unfortunately, a driver who was stabbed by one of the passengers,” Arnold said. “There were industry incentives across the state to protect drivers.”

Thomas Dunn, 46, was working on his usual commute as a bus driver with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa when he was stabbed to death on May 18, 2019, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

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The permanent security barriers project will cost $ 62,500. Funding comes from the Federal Transit Administration Grant, depending on the county.

Clear, transparent plexiglass, or an approved equivalent, will be installed on Collier Area Transit buses to act as barriers.

Permanent barriers will be installed on all Collier Area Transit fixed-route buses and the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Arnold said.

The barriers will protect the driver from assaults and include a sliding glass system for quick protection. They will be designed to withstand high impacts and adapted to work around existing bus equipment, depending on the county.

Collier Area Transit buses stop to pick up passengers at the Collier County Government Center in Naples on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

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There will be no disruption to routes while work on the project begins and barriers are installed, Arnold said.

“Our bus drivers are essential to the operations and the services we provide,” said Arnold. “We are trying to do what we can to make sure they have safe working conditions and that improves their safety.”

Drivers will still be able to help passengers board and answer questions about fares or routes, Arnold said.

“It’s a win-win situation to have these barriers,” said Arnold. “This increases the safety of our operators. ”


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