Safety barriers will be installed in every urban bus in Queensland to protect drivers from abuse.
The introduction of the safety barriers following two reviews – one state-led (conducted by Deloitte on behalf of the Department of Transport and Main Roads) and another independent report of the need for such measures. The goal is to prevent abusive behaviour against drivers by commuters, including aggression and physical violence.
In a statement, transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said introducing the safety barriers consolidated a best practice approach for improved safety standards across the public transport bus fleet. Driver safety was paramount, he added, with de-escalation training and incident reporting also an important part of addressing the problem.
Griffith University developed a tailored de-escalation training program in collaboration with TransLink and the Queensland Bus Industry Council to this end.
“Education and increased safety awareness are a key component in driver safety, and an online training program for Queensland bus drivers aimed at reducing the incidence, intensity and of passenger hostility was developed and implemented in 2021,” Bailey said.
“This course provides drivers with ways to help anticipate, handle and cope during and after incidents involving customers.”
Extensive industry engagement was undertaken with stakeholders, and bus drivers in particular, to understand the best approach to improving safety overall.
Bus operators will have the choice to determine what kind of barrier they will install, Bailey said, and be required to complete a comprehensive risk assessment, including consultation with their workforce in making the decision.
“It’s important that introducing this mandate still provides individual bus operators with the flexibility to implement a solution that is best suited to their network,” the minister said.
“We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution for barrier design. The recent Bus Driver Safety Barriers Roundtable was focussed on a discussion with industry on the best way to implement the new mandate.”
Most buses in the state already have partial barriers thanks to a bus driver safety plan in 2018, which led to the creation of a scheme to fund grants for retrofitting driver barriers for eligible bus operators.
Bailey said this latest review was another step towards creating safer working conditions for frontline public transport workers.