Bus drivers take to Capitol Hill to demand protective shields on all buses
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
California Rep. Grace Napolitano introduced legislation Wednesday on Capitol Hill that would require protective shields for all bus drivers.
Many bus drivers attended in a packed hearing room to share stories in which they have been assaulted in some manner.
For bus driver Karen Alexander, this day has been a long time coming.
“This is the day that god has made for me to get up to talk. … You don't know what I’ve been through,” a visibly emotional Alexander said.
At one point during the hearing, the drivers began shouting the attacks they've experienced.
Barry Wilson drives the 70 bus in Northwest Washington.
“I had a female passenger spat in my face,” Wilson said. “To have someone spit in your face is the most degrading thing that can possibly happen.”
Driver shields are common place in Europe and even in Las Vegas, but they are not required by law in the U.S.
The union representing drivers says most bus drivers are the only public operators not protected, pointing to shields in cabs, secure cockpits on planes, and protected compartments on trains and subways.
Part of the new bill will include $25 million in grant money for transit agencies to install the safety shelters. The members of Congress sponsoring the bill hope to have it in place by next year.