The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) Board activated emergency procurement procedures this week to expedite the installation of protective barriers for bus operators.

John Ellis, general chairperson of GO 875, which represents our members who work on LACMTA, issued the following statement April 25:

General Chairperson John Ellis of GO 875, which represents LACMTA workers.

“We have reached a critical milestone! After countless hurdles, on Thursday, April 18, 2024, I viewed the completed prototype enclosure and requested the execution and mass production of the implementation of the driver enclosures. I drove the bus for 35 years and I understand what our members are all up against daily.

“No one can begin to comprehend what an operator faces during these unpredictable times. Rest assured, I will continue to advocate the safety that is owed to our members. I will not stop fighting until all enclosures are on all the buses. Metro, law enforcement and the union as a whole must remain vigilant to this plague affecting our brothers and sisters. Their physical well being and mental stability is of the upmost priority to our members and their families.

“At today’s (April 25) Board of Directors meeting, the board approved and authorized the emergency procurement designation to expedite the completion of the installation of the retrofit barriers on Metro’s fleet by the end of December. I anxiously await the retrofit buses to start making headway for the safety of our transportation heroes — it can’t happen fast enough.

“Furthermore, more new assaults have been reported. When it’s not a valued member, it’s an innocent patron being attacked. The current contracted agencies of law enforcement are not sufficient! We need a dedicated Metro police system for transportation.

“This is a vital and legitimate request I am proposing to Metro. It will create a better safety transportation system, dedicated police taking care of nothing BUT transit! No ifs, ands or buts about it. Everyone’s life matters.

“I’d like to recognize Metro’s CEO Stephanie Wiggins for working collaboratively with me and taking action during these unprecedented times. The union thanks our members for their continuous service.”

On April 26, the Federal Transportation Agency (FTA) posted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding public transportation agency safety plans. The agency is seeking feedback and suggestions from bus employees and other interested parties on what changes federal overseers can make in public transportation that would result in safety improvements for bus operators, riders and pedestrians alike.

The SMART Transportation Division intends to file a public comment on behalf of our bus members. We need our members in bus service to help us tell your story. The stakes get no higher than keeping you and your riders safe. We hope all our bus members take the time to consider and share what changes in regulations, training, maintenance practices and bus design would be most vital in keeping you as safe as possible as you do your incredibly valuable work.

SMART-TD’s National Legislative Department is working with both vice presidents of the Bus Department to build the best argument possible; however, SMART-TD is fully aware that you are ultimately the experts on this topic, and we are asking for your input and ideas on this project.

Topics currently being considered for inclusion in our NPRM response include the items listed below. These topics have not been decided on at this point and are in no way ordered by priority.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Changing the rearview mirror and camera placement to eliminate blind spots;
  • Addressing windshield design;
  • Addressing fare box placement to get them out of the operator’s line of sight;
  • Audible announcements telling pedestrians the bus is turning and in which direction.

Operator Safety

  • Mandating the installation of driver barriers that do not have access points allowing riders to physically touch operators;
  • Having doors built into the left side of the bus allowing the operator to exit the bus separate from the riders;
  • Disallow transit companies from disciplining operators for leaving their seats in the case of an emergency or in the use of their de-escalation training;
  • Additional de-escalation training;
  • Two-way radios;
  • Silent alarms;
  • Public Address posters in the cab of all public transit vehicles describing elevated criminal penalties for assaulting transit workers.

Rider Safety

  • Passenger education ad campaigns;
  • Announcements over loudspeakers at bus terminals;
  • Transit police funding for both large- and mid-sized markets;
  • Rider ambassador programs;
  • “Call 9-1-1” alerts to be displayed on destination or next stop signs.

Mechanics’ Safety

  • Training and certification in repairing electric and alternative fuel buses safely;
  • Federal intervention on bus manufacturers voiding warranties when our mechanics make repairs.

Public Policy

  • Increased federal penalties for assaults on transit workers;
  • Federal requirements for all bus carriers to report rider incidents reported by operators, and FTA compiling these into reports made available at regular intervals.

Health Safety

  • Cashless fares;
  • Mask mandates.

If you would like to contribute additional topics for us to consider, please reach out to SMART-TD Government Affairs Representative Dan Banks by June 2. He can be reached by email at, or by phone at (216) 227-5450. Please engage in this process and allow SMART-TD to fight for you armed with the best information and ideas possible.