RTA Unveils Enclosures To Protect Drivers

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CLEVELAND -- Tuesday, the RTA unveiled a new plexiglass enclosure aimed at protecting its bus drivers.

The enclosure was on display at the very first safety and security meeting.

"Safety is so incredibly important.  We want to do everything we can to make sure our drivers are safe," said Mary Shaffer, spokeswoman with the RTA.

The feature comes after calls for bus operator protection from the Cleveland Transit Union after several incidents between drivers and riders in the past few months.

"We are going to have drivers test it out.  See if it's helping them, or if they feel too closed in," added Shaffer.

This all comes after a video went viral in October of a bus driver, Artis Hughes, delivering an uppercut to a passenger he says was acting unruly.

Since then, several other attacks have been reported.

"This will cost us upwards of three quarters of a million dollars if we install the enclosure on all 450 buses in service.  Before we make that kind of investment, we want to make sure our drivers like this option," said Shaffer.

"It's a great start but there's still more to be done," said William Nix, President of Local 268.

According to the Cleveland Transit Union, the RTA is listening to their calls for increased protection.

"We just have to continue to get legislation through that if you put your hands on a transit worker, you will be prosecuted.  And not just the operator, but any transit worker," said Nix.

"We've increased our training for operators on how to deescalate a situation.  So if a passenger says someone you don't like, you calm that person down," added Shaffer.

If drivers like the enclosure, they most likely will be installed in the next couple weeks.

For more on recent incidents of violence and proposed safety legislation, click here