Wednesday, January 30, 2013

TriMet’s New Buses Inherently Dangerous

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.

1 comment:

always roaming said...

I’m sorry to rant on all these threads about the “blind spot” issue but as a retired transit operator who put in 30-years with another municipal transit agency and an ATU member during that time, I am one who subscribes to the adage “there but for the grace of God go I” and am eternally thankful that I wasn’t one of the drivers accused of negligence by having an accident with a pedestrian when making a left turn. I could have just as well been one of those drivers who unfortunately have killed a pedestrian while making a left turn. I always have sat low in the driver’s seat and being of average height, I had problems with the blocking A-pillar but especially with the left mirror housing blocking a lot of vision and totally obscuring pedestrians as they were crossing the street. I had two very, very close calls when I caught view of the pedestrian and was able to stop just inches and a split second before running into them. The look in their eyes and the expression on their face will be burned into my memory forever. I’m sure I had just as startled a look on my own face.

Trimet and other transit agencies assert that it is the driver’s responsibility to “rock and roll” before making a left turn to make sure that pedestrians are clear of the intended path. However, it’s an un-natural maneuver to have to rock-and-roll on each turn and as such, sometimes will be overlooked. In that case, Trimet has their ass covered. They can blame the driver.

However, it really not necessary to be performing this extreme rock-and-roll maneuver to see around the big blind spot as, in my opinion, all that needs to be done is to GET RID OF THE BLIND SPOTS!! GET THE LEFT MIRROR HOUSING OUT OF THE PLANE OF THE DRIVER’S VISION by either mounting it substantially higher or substantially lower than the level of the drivers’ eyes. The A-pillar can easily be designed by bus manufacturers to be thinner and should be designated as such by the procurement team at the transit agency when ordering buses.

This is only my opinion but if these two things were adhered to 1) getting the left mirror housing out of the plane of the driver’s vision and 2) having thinner A-pillars, left turn pedestrian accidents could essentially be eliminated completely. I stand firm that it is an inherent equipment problem that is causing these accidents. This is a very simple solution to save lives and no transit agency seems to grasp this.

Hooray for local 757 for their fight to save lives by bringing some of these issues to the forefront!!