BOSTON — The MBTA is testing out partitions on its buses that are intended to protect drivers from abusive riders.
A protective partition made of metal and plastic glass was installed on one bus this week. For the next 90 days, drivers will take turns using that bus on their routes and reporting their impressions to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials. If drivers give positive feedback, the T will include the partition on every new bus purchased.
The protective partitions are being tested as a result of an increasing number of assaults on bus drivers in recent years.
There were 43 assaults, including punching, kicking and spitting, on bus drivers last year, according to the transit agency. There have been 14 already this year.
“Historically, people have not wanted to do enclosures,” MBTA general manager Beverly Scott told The Boston Globe. “It’s not the most inviting thing in the world when it comes to customers. Because of the fact that there has been an increase in assaults on bus operators across the country, now people are having to take a much more serious look.”
There is a gap in the partition that gives drivers access to the fare box.
Antoinette Bradley, who’s been driving for the MBTA for 28 years, approves of the partitions.
“I feel much safer now, and I don’t have to worry about anyone,” Bradley said. “They need it on every shift, on every route.”