PSTA authorities say it would cost $5K per bus to protect drivers

It could cost $2 million to put protection on 210 buses.

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click to enlarge PSTA authorities say it would cost $5K per bus to protect drivers
Photo via Facebook/ridepsta

Some people are asking the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to take the issue of bus driver safety off the backburner and  think about installing enclosures that would shield the folks who sit behind the wheel of PSTA buses from possible altercation.

At a PSTA meeting on Wednesday, Rick Smith, chief of staff for the Service Employees International Union, said that there have been 20 assaults on PSTA drivers since 2016. According to TBBJ, three of those incidents involved bus operators being hit in the face.

PSTA CEO Brad Miller said that putting a barrier would cost $5,000 per bus, which would put the cost of outfitting 210 buses at just over $1 million. Installing barriers that provide full protection for drivers, however, might bring that figure closer to $2 million. Pinellas Commissioner Dave Eggers suggested possibly re-allocating more than $700,000 in funds set for electric bus investment toward the safety of PSTA drivers, and Miller said that a timeline for safety barrier implementation would be in place by June.

According to WFTS, April Murphy, a former bus driver and current representative for the Service Employee International Union, said the PSTA is promising to put new bulletproof safety enclosures in 50% of PSTA buses.

All of this comes in the wake of the killing of Thomas Dunn, a driver for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) system, who was stabbed to death by Justin McGriff on May 25. According to WFLA, Dunn had made his concerns for driver safety public during a HART meeting in December and was unhappy with his employers' response.

Murphy, for her part, stressed the urgency for PSTA employees.

“[Drivers] are out there every day,” she said, “like sitting ducks.”

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About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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