TransLink is installing protective shields inside buses in an effort to keep drivers safe.
The barriers, which feature a sliding glass door that drivers can open and close manually, will be installed on the next fleet of about 100 new buses within the year.
Hayden Acheson, the president and general manager of Coast Mountain Bus Company, said the project is the result of a safety audit conducted three years ago.
"We get 120 to 130 operator assaults a year. This is just another tool for operator safety," he said.
He said that when consulted, bus drivers emphasized that protective measures should not compromise their ability to interact with passengers.
"Those of us that ride the buses know how often a customer comes on and asks for advice or directions," he said. "Operators were very concerned about losing the ability to add that personal touch."
Union backs installation
Mike McMillan, the vice president of Unifor Local 11, said he hopes passengers will understand the need for the separation.
"We have a right to a safe work environment, and I think with the installation of these shields it'll give us that safety," he said.
"We still have that interaction, there won't be Plexiglass between us."
Metro Vancouver Transit Police previously introduced a social media campaign called "don't touch the operator," but said it did not seriously curb the number of assaults.
The barriers, which each cost around $5,000 each, will be retrofitted on 208 buses by the end of 2017. They'll also then be tested on six trolley buses, which will need to be partially redesigned.
TransLink says it hopes to have them installed on 75 per cent of all buses by 2027.