The TriMet bus operators and mechanics have serious concerns about TriMet’s new buses, says Bruce Hansen, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Division 757. He states that a prior model of the same Gillig brand of bus has the highest incidence of left-turn pedestrian accidents. He said the Union repeatedly raised concerns about the pillar/mirror complex in that earlier bus’s left front corner. “Now, they’ve purchased new Gillig buses that have even more and bigger obstructions in that area. Not only that, they decided they wanted the bus to look like a train so they’ve given the new buses front extensions. Those extensions create even greater vision obstructions.”
Hansen says he’s been told that the addition of those front extensions is costing the agency $16,000 plus for each bus. Lack of training is also a problem. “We’ve told them time and time again that these vision-obstructed buses should not make left-hand turns and that shorter stature people need special training in how to see around the obstructions. So far, no action from management.” Hansen noted that the two pedestrians killed a few years ago were hit by a bus turning left that was being driven by a short stature operator. He also said that the hybrid version of the new buses packs a high voltage wallop that the mechanics have not been trained to handle.
Hansen reported that regular TriMet operators were not asked to test drive the new buses in every day traffic before management made the purchase. “This seems to be a purchase where the desire for a flashy design is being elevated over commonsense and safety,” he said.