Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Bus drivers being assaulted almost every other day

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Bus drivers being assaulted almost every other day
Houlahan said he doesn’t expect to see cameras on buses for at least a year.

This story – or one very like it – appears regularly. On a day when the Sun can afford over half a page to Mrs Harper’s dresses, it must be a “slow news day”.

The figures on assaults are inflated by adding in verbal assaults – cameras would be of little help here. But if the physical assaults are a real problem, cameras should have been installed a long time ago, and should now be an urgent priority.

After a series of very serious assaults on its drivers, Bonny’s was the first taxi company in the region to install cameras. The other taxi companies spent a long time arguing about who should pay for the cameras, fearing that the company that did not spend the money would have some kind of commercial advantage. Nonsense, of course. Customers really appreciate feeling safer in the cab.

Translink could easily put in cameras: the Skytrain system is one of the most surveilled areas in the region, and no one has an expectation of privacy on public transport. Trouble is that system is useless as evidence in many cases as the video tape is rewound every hour. A modern system of electronic image storage is planned for some time in the future.

Cameras were put on school buses many years ago in many places, to help curb unruly passenger behaviour. The camera boxes were not necessarily loaded – a bit like UK’s “gatsos” (fixed location speed cameras) – but they still worked as a deterrent.

These days small surveillance cameras are readily available and very cheap. They could be on all the time – or activated by a strategically placed switch, under the driver’s heel for example. Not hard to do. Not expensive. Not when compared to the costs of paying drivers who must take sick leave. Or Translink’s WCB premiums.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 29, 2006 at 11:20 pm

Posted in Transportation

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