One of the first things instructors should do whenever a new type of bus arrives on site is to locate its pivot point.
Let's simplify the definition of 'pivot point.' The pivot point is the specific location on a bus that an object must align with before the operator attempts to overtake that object, whether it is a vehicle, sign, etc. Attempting to overtake the object — fixed, pedestrian, double parked vehicle — before that object reaches the pivot point locations mentioned below by bus model, will result in making contact with that object. Let's look at the various pivot point locations on some buses.
- 40ft. RTS/Orion- Center of rear tires
- 45ft. MCI- Midpoint between 2 sets of rear tires
- 60ft. Articulated- Center of Articulated Joint (Accordion)
Would someone like to volunteer the location of the pivot point on a 30ft. and 35ft. model bus?
Let's put this to use. A very powerful lesson of the do's and don'ts of overtaking fixed objects and eliminating curb strikes or mounting curbs while turning should be demonstrated on the first day your students begin training on the training bus. Along with learning mirror setup/utilization, air brake familiarity, interior and exterior pre-trip inspection, getting permission — getting the object to align with the pivot point of his or her bus — should be a new phrase that students learn. Once this is accomplished, students will get into the habit of seeking permission before attempting to move around fixed objects.
Those of you with a driver training simulator can perform this all-important exercise during a serpentine course conducted around pillar columns, which appear in some virtual driving worlds. Pillars support the overhead elevated train tracks in cities like New York and Chicago, just to name a few, and provide an ideal location to practice this critical movement. If you don't have this type of training set up on your bus simulator, contact your simulator provider.
Go to your training area and bring a rubber cone. Place it next to the pivot point — depending on the bus models above. Let's use the 40-foot bus, for example, by placing the cone as close as you like alongside the center of the right rear outside tire — the left rear outside tire can be used for a left-side demonstration. Have your students stand by the right rear corner of the bus near the right rear taillight looking down the right side of the bus. They should have a good view of the closeness of the cone to the right outside tire. With you in the operator's seat, take the wheel and lock the steering wheel to the right then slowly begin to move. What your students will see is that from the point where you placed the cone and back, this area will move around the cone with no contact.
Give the cone a name.
From that point forward in your training, consider any object they attempt to overtake a person. If they feel they are overtaking a person, it keeps them a little more focused on the task at hand. Once you have established your point of not having contact as long as you get the object to the pivot point, move the cone forward a few feet toward the rear doors. Get back in the bus and once again lock the steering wheel to the right. With the students watching, attempt to move right again. Before moving slowly, lock the wheel right. This time the bus will make contact with the object. This comes in handy when working with shifters/drillers in tight depot areas. You will be surprised how much damage can occur by moving buses around a depot during the late hours. Damage appears during a morning pull-out pre-trip that was not present on the post-trip during the previous evening's pull-in.
Allow each student/operator to move around the cone/simulated pillars moving left and right using the 'getting permission' theory. Walk them through one or two sets of cones then allow them to do it on their own, unassisted. It's important they demonstrate that they comprehend the reason behind getting permission. Remember, they must learn to look right or left before moving right or left!
- Permission is granted to move around the fixed object only when being aligned with the pivot point. Result = NO CONTACT!
- Permission is denied to move around the fixed object — where there is minimal clearance between the pivot point and the fixed object — before being aligned with the pivot point. Result = CONTACT!
If we encourage our operators to treat operating a bus as a shift-long Zen moment, we may be able to reduce preventable crashes by a significant amount. The “Zen Operator,” who drives precisely at all times, is also less stressed. The Zen Operator flows through difficult, tight situations easily and their body language and vibe give passengers a sense of confidence. The operator whose passengers have a white-knuckle death grip on the back of the seat in front of them is not practicing “Zen Bus Operation.”
Ah, summer. Pool parties, barbecues, the smell of honeysuckle and the sight of lightning bugs. Or — a rise in crime, agitated riders seeking air conditioning, heat stroke, a new fiscal year, and the necessary, but unpopular, fare increases. However you view the summer months, with a direct correlation between high temperatures and increased crime, it's vital for transit leaders to be asking themselves, "Have we done everything possible to keep our people safe?"
The RMS occurred last month in Albany, N.Y. and it was a truly remarkable learning experience for those in attendance. The RMS serves as a one-of-a-kind event that brings together transit risk management professionals from all across the country to focus on key topics related to safety, risk management, planning and prevention.
I recently attended, and had the opportunity to be part of a panel of speakers, at the NYC MTA Bus Safety Symposium. A variety of topics were discussed regarding bus and pedestrian safety issues. What was obvious is we all have a common goal to provide the safest transit systems possible, in spite of the possibility of increasing bus/pedestrian and bus/cyclist collisions.
I have had it with the never-ending meeting of the minds on the predominant causes of left-turn bus-pedestrian collisions. This whole issue is getting obscured with presentations that slice and dice every possible cause of these incidents into a collection of symbols, numbers and formulas. Please stop.