Community leaders gift CATS with bulletproof partition, CATS says they didn’t know about it until today

The total cost for CATS to implement this would be almost $1 million for 322 buses
Overall, it would cost close to $1 million to just manufacture them.
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 6:47 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - CATS bus driver Ethan Rivera was shot and killed a month ago in uptown Charlotte.

Darian Thavychith is accused of the shooting, investigators say, was sparked by road rage.

Today, community leaders came together to address safety issues to protect our bus drivers.

They gifted CATS with a bulletproof partition.

A CATS spokesperson told WBTV they didn’t know about it until today and they don’t know if they’ll accept it.

The partition would go inside the bus, between the driver and passenger, around the CATS bus driver cockpit.

Local companies put this together - it costs a couple of thousand dollars for each prototype and the total cost for CATS to implement this would be almost $1 million for 322 buses.

Queen City Engineering and Design’s Rex Carriker said, “The main bread and butter to the product is the bullet-resistant Lexan material we’re using for the clear shield portion of the door. It’s over one inch thick and it’s rated to withstand from the manufacturer a 350-magnum bullet shot point-blank.”

CATS now needs to decide if they want to install this partition.

If they do, the next step would be coming up with a proposal to submit to city council.

Read the full statement from a CATS spokesperson below:

CATS was not a party to these conversations and was not aware of this effort (lead by Tariq Bokhari) until today. CATS has been in discussions with our primary bus manufacturer about the feasibility of a bullet-proof glass enclosure on buses for several weeks.

Installing these enclosures would require a complete analysis of the operator’s area, as well as an analysis of the impact that the additional weight of the glass would have on vehicle performance and safety, the structural changes in the operator’s areas to support the additional load and the impact to federal Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA) requirements for front-entry access and wheelchair loading.

CATS has not been able to identify any other transit agencies in the United States that use bullet-proof enclosures at this time; and our bus manufacturer has informed us that there are no current options available, nor is there a timeline for when a product might be available. We are open to further discussions about the feasibility of this technology.

CATS will continue to work with the SMART employee union to address its concerns. CATS has already taken a number of steps to improve safety and security including:

  • CMPD has added patrols of the Charlotte Transit Center (CTC) and bus routes requested by the SMART employee union. The Department of Homeland Security Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams will make random visits to and patrol CATS facilities. CATS will also add additional Allied Universal company security resources for all bus facilities.
  • CATS is working with CMPD to identify and implement de-escalation training for bus operators and CATS frontline employees. This training will be given to current bus operators and added to new employee training program.
  • CATS has surveyed every bus to identify and fix any malfunctioning bus radios. CATS instituted new daily procedures for radio checks prior to morning pull-out. Any bus that has malfunctioning radio will be immediately swapped out for another bus.

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