Press Releases

JTA Completes Installation of Protective Barriers

JACKSONVILLE, FL – The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) completed its installation of 187 protective barriers on its fleet of fixed-route buses, giving bus operators another layer of security.

JTA mechanics installed the final barrier on Thursday, Nov. 14.

Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. instructed leadership to investigate this security feature in 2018, based on feedback from JTA Transit Operations, bus operators and due to national and local trends that show an increase in assaults on bus operators while on the job.

“The safety and security of our customers and our employees is our top priority at the JTA,” said Ford. “That’s why we work so closely with law enforcement and why we proactively invest in safety measures like these new shields.”

The JTA Board of Directors allocated $600,000 in funding at its March 26 meeting to purchase and shields and retrofit JTA’s entire bus fleet. Installations began in August. New buses ordered by JTA will already have these safety devices in place.

The investment by the JTA Board came after a year-long pilot program launched in 2018 by JTA leadership and with input from bus operators to determine which shield should be adopted.

The final selection is a clear, retractable shield that covers the bus operator’s right side, which faces boarding or departing customers. Each shield can be locked in place in a matter of seconds, should the operator feel the need.

“We now have a shield that, when closed, protects their blindside from any potential attack,” said JTA Vice President of Transit Operations and Chief Transit Officer Lisa Darnall.

“That flexibility empowers our operators to be proactive about their safety, without cutting off the valuable connection to their customers,” said Darnall.  

Proactive Safety Measures

In the state of Florida, it is a felony to assault a transit official while performing their duties according to Section 784.07, Florida Statutes. Other criminal infractions related to transit services are detailed under Section 812.015, Florida Statutes.

The JTA works proactively with the Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office (JSO) to locate and apprehend individuals who physically assault JTA employees. The Authority also works with the Office of the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit as they investigate and prosecute criminal behavior.  

These protective barriers are just one of the many ways JTA has increased its investment in safety under Nathaniel Ford and his executive leadership team, more than 34% since 2015.  

Recent investments include the overhaul of closed-circuit television systems at JTA facilities, the addition of a new safety officer and dedicated safety analyst, and upgrades to our bus fleet’s on-board video and audio recording capabilities that allow supervisors to pinpoint situations in real-time. JTA safety officers are TSI-Certified and are present at transit facilities along with local law enforcement.  

Safety exercises are conducted regularly in conjunction with law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Transportation Safety Administration.

Chief Safety Officer Ivan Mote, a direct report to the CEO, is TSI-Certified and serves on the DHS’s Surface Transportation Safety Committee where he is kept abreast of any national trends or challenges facing the industry.

Customers are also empowered to report issues or suspicious behavior through the free JTA See & Say App, available for iOS and Android smart mobile devices.