The National Academies


Bus Operator Barrier Design

Posted Date: 2/18/2021

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Contract Time: 18 months
(includes 2 months for TCRP review and approval of the interim report and 3 months for TCRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 6/1/2021 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Stephan A. Parker
   Phone: 202/334-2554
   Email: saparker@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 4/6/2021
Fiscal Year: 2020


The installation of driver barriers in transit buses can help to reduce the risk of assault. Assaults against transit workers pose a serious threat on many levels by threatening the physical safety and emotional well-being of transit workers, endangering passengers, and lowering employee morale. The emotional effects of assault can deter transit employees from returning to work and passengers from using transit, impacting both schedule and revenue.


TCRP Synthesis 93: Practices to Protect Bus Operators from Passenger Assault found that “the National Transit Database (NTD) does not capture the true extent of workplace violence” as the NTD "does not accommodate the reporting of minor assaults that do not result in an arrest. Although an assault such as spitting or verbal insults may not cause physical harm to the operator, it can cause significant emotional distress.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there are additional concerns for bus drivers including protection against direct exposure to the virus from passengers and overall air quality concerns. 
When addressing the potential for barriers to prevent assaults and improve air quality, other factors should be considered, including: 
  • Operator comfort
  • Vision impacts, including glare
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant access
  • Emergency egress
Research is needed to provide guidance for efficient and effective actions to protect the health and safety of bus operators and the traveling public. 
The objective of this research is to give public transportation agencies practical guidance on designing, procuring, and installing bus operator barriers. 
The guidance should be based on evaluation criteria and performance measures of effective barrier types, taking into account:
  • Prevention of assaults
  • Air quality/HVAC
  • Operator comfort
  • Vision impacts, including glare
  • ADA compliant access
  • Emergency egress
The guidance should apply to both retrofit of existing buses and procurement of new buses equipped with appropriate protection for drivers and passengers.
Note: TCRP research cannot evaluate the relative performance of proprietary products. This research must focus on generic barrier types and characteristics. 
To achieve the objective, it is anticipated that the questions below will need to be answered.
What barrier types are used in current U.S. and Canadian fleets and how do they address the following performance indicators?
  • Assault prevention – can assailants reach around them, throw fluids, etc.? Are they sufficiently strong?
  • Are there visual impacts, reflection, masking, distortions? Do optical coatings or other mitigations work if any visual issues are found?
  • Are thermal problems created that need design elements like HVAC retrofits?
  • Are there durability or quality control issues like failing/rattling latches, hinges, support framing, etc.?
  • Are there notable ergonomic successes or problems, such as well-liked features or conversely, push/pull injuries, etc.?
  • How appealing are current industrial designs; do they feel like an inviting space or a dangerous space?
  • What policies and procedures have agencies adopted for operators to deploy barriers?
  • What effects do Buy America and ADA requirements have on barriers in the United States? 
What global best practices exist outside the United States and Canada?
  • Are there examples of barrier designs with design features that are noteworthy?
  • Are there outstanding examples of industrial design, creating inviting spaces for both passengers and employees, while still delivering excellent performance?
  • Are there any barrier designs offering superior protections against assault?
  • Are there differences in bus configuration that improve barrier security performance or related issues, such as accessibility, ergonomics, air quality, biohazard mitigation, thermal regulation, communication with passengers, etc.?
What operator protections against COVID-19 and other pathogens are available?
  • What types of barriers in the United States and around the world provide verified protection against infectious diseases, and what are their characteristics?
  • Is it practical to modify existing partial barriers to provide high-grade isolation for operators?
  • Are there operational challenges added when improving biohazard functionality of partial barriers, such as increased visual, communication, or ergonomic problems?

Are current bus designs sufficient for integration of effective barriers or should an alternate design be considered?
  • Can front wheelchair access and space for a barrier that does not impact operator vision be engineered into vehicle designs, and if so, how?
  • Can those solutions also yield customer service improvements and meet other goals for the industry, such as

i.   A reassuring space in terms of infectious diseases and getting the public back on board;

ii.  Improved access, accommodation, and independence for ADA passengers; and

iii. Lower operating costs, including employee time loss?

Do the practices uncovered in this research lend themselves to being submitted for consideration by standards development organizations?
Could engagement activities be scheduled with North American bus manufacturers and the solutions they provide for barriers and HVAC in new bus procurements in the United States?  
The TCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must represent the proposers’ current thinking described in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach in meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and/or phases. Proposers must describe the work proposed in each phase and task in detail.
The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the TCRP project panel including, at a minimum, (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the contract’s execution date and (2) web-enabled teleconferences tied to panel review and/or TCRP approval of interim deliverables.
The final deliverables will include (1) practical guidance for public transportation agencies on designing, procuring, and installing bus operator barriers; (2) a final report that documents the entire project; (3) an executive summary that outlines the research results; (4) recommendations of needs and priorities for additional related research; and (5) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note D for additional information).
A. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the TransportationResearch Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were modified in November 2020 to include maximum file size and page limits for all CRP proposals. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.
B. Proposals are evaluated by the TCRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.  
C. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a “federally” Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
D. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," in each proposal must include an Implementation Plan that describes activities to promote application of the product of this research. It is expected that the implementation plan will evolve during the project; however, proposals must describe, as a minimum, the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in applying the research product, (e) the activities necessary for successful implementation, and (f) the criteria for judging the progress and consequences of implementation.
E. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.
F. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.
G. If the research approach includes human subjects testing, proposers should be aware that contracts will be subject to approval by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). This review may be conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s IRB, but NASEM will delegate the review to the contracting agency’s IRB if that agency’s process meets all federal requirements for the protection of human subjects.
H. Useful resources for this project include:

1.      Bus Compartment NOFO  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/02/11/2020-02624/competitiveresearch-funding-opportunity-redesign-of-transit-bus-operator-compartment-toimprove       


2.      Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant Program FY2020 Notice of Funding https://www.transit.dot.gov/notices-funding/public-transportationcovid-19-research-demonstration-grant-program-fy2020-notice 


3.      U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $9.1 Million in Grant Awards to 10 Projects to Advance Transit Innovation and Safety Nationwide (October 8, 2020)  https://www.transit.dot.gov/about/news/us-department-transportation-announces-91million-grant-awards-10-projects-advance 


4.      Sherlock, Brian. “COVID-19 Revealed an Invisible Hazard on American Buses.” Issues in Science and Technology (October 6, 2020). https://issues.org/covid-19revealed-invisible-air-quality-hazard-on-american-buses/ 


5.      National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. TCRP Research Report 193: Tools and Strategies for Eliminating Assaults Against Transit Operators, Volume 1: Research Overview. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25115 


6.      Preventing and Mitigating Transit Worker Assaults in the Bus and Rail Transit Industry. Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) 14-01 Report (July 6, 2015) www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/Final_TRACS_Assaults_Report_14-01_07_06_15_pdf_rv6.pdf


7.      National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. TCRP Report 171: Use of Mobility Devices on Paratransit Vehicles and Buses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/22325


8.      National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2011. TCRP Synthesis 93: Practices to Protect Bus Operators from Passenger Assault. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/14609 


Proposals should be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/1kQktOWo6kEmibxcOrOL  
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 4/6/2021.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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