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Metro Council to spend over $1M on protective barriers for bus drivers

There's been a rise in driver assaults in the Twin Cities this year.

More than $1 million will be spent by the Metropolitan Council to improve the safety of bus drivers on Twin Cities transit routes.

The funding was approved by the council on Wednesday, following a number of high-profile assaults on bus drivers by passengers in recent years.

The council will spend $1.23 million to install barriers in 600 Metro Transit buses to prevent drivers from being assaulted while they work.

It's expected to take around 18 months to fit the barriers in all the buses, which will happen at a rate of around eight a week.

Metro Transit says that there have been 189 assaults or threats against bus drivers through October this year, an increase on the 184 reported all of last year.

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Although it hasn't been decided yet which bus routes will receive the protective barriers first, the Star Tribune reports those that have experienced the most problems, such as routes 5, 19 and 21, will likely get priority.

The rise in assaults on bus drivers sparked calls from union leaders for barriers between operators and passengers.

They also think concerns over driver assaults could be putting off potential applicants at a time when the Twin Cities is seeing a serious shortage of transit operators.

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