Lack of PPE for transit security could pose a public health risk

June 1, 2020

Back of a transit security vest

Insufficient personal protective equipment for transit security workers could pose a risk to both workers and to members of the public as B.C.’s economy begins to re-open and transit users increase.

Transit security members employed by Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) only have access to face masks designed for personal use, which is insufficient for the nature of their work as it involves dealing often in close contact with members of the public in situations where physical distancing is not possible.

“Transit security are the first responders when there are issues on buses, bus shelters, and SkyTrain stations and they have to deal directly with people to resolve issues or de-escalate volatile situations,” said Christy Slusarenko, MoveUP Vice-President of Combined Units. “The lack of PPE – specifically KN95 masks – not only puts these workers and their immediate families at risk, but it means anybody that has to interact with transit security is potentially at risk as well. With thousands of transit users every day, many who will come in close contact with transit security, this is a serious concern.”

MoveUP, the union that represents transit security workers along with other workers in the public transit sector at CMBC, TransLink, and BC Transit in Victoria, is calling on CMBC to work alongside the B.C. provincial government to ensure that transit security members can have access to critical and necessary PPE as appropriate for their work and level of interaction with the public.

“We are concerned, first and foremost, for the health and safety of our members and the people who are in close proximity to them, but CMBC and our public health officials should recognize this as a concern as more and more people begin to expand their circles and use public transit to get around,” said Slusarenko. “Having appropriate PPE will go a long way towards putting our members’ health and safety concerns at ease, but also in restoring confidence in public transit.”