bus Singapore
A 39-year-old SBS Transit bus driver was assaulted after he told a commuter to put on a mask, on Sept 16, 2020.

Measures to protect public transport workers from abuse, such as a shield around a bus driver’s seat, are being explored, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat on Friday (Sept 25).

However, he stressed that commuters must also behave themselves and not resort to such abuse.

“No amount of physical barriers can help to protect the safety and dignity of our transport workers if the public does not subscribe to this important concept of showing respect to our public transport workers and allowing them to do their jobs (and) their duties in a safe environment,” he added.

Mr Chee was speaking at an appreciation session held by SBS Transit to thank two men who had stopped an assault on one of its bus drivers.

It had close to 40 cases of public bus staff being assaulted this year, about half of which were mask-related. This was up from 33 cases in the whole of last year.

On Friday, Mr Chee said that while various measures to protect public transport workers from abuse are being explored, commuters must understand that it is still wrong to verbally and physically abuse them.

“That is something we have to tackle through legislation, enforcement, awareness and education,” he added.

He said that a zero-tolerance approach will be taken towards abuses against transport workers.

He also said that there are proper channels for unhappy commuters to provide feedback.

SBS Transit’s acting chief executive, Mr Cheng Siak Kian, said the operator’s bus drivers are trained to de-escalate any situation which leads to an altercation between commuter and driver.

There are also devices on the bus, such as cameras and a communication system , to alert the SBS Transit’s operations control centres of any bus drivers who are in trouble, he said.

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