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!
Recent national incidents have put increased attention on safe commuting and what passengers can do to protect themselves during a transit emergency. “The most important tip anyone can follow is to wait for the instructions of the crew,” said Scott Sauer, chief system safety officer for SEPTA. “Crews know the equipment best and have been trained to safely remove passengers from vehicles should the situation warrant evacuation...
Are you getting frustrated because — in spite of what you’re doing — collisions are not dropping at your agency? With just a few tweaks, you can make a difference. If you are a chief training officer, training director, instructor or equivalent at your agency, then this message is for you.
I may be all alone on this one, but I discovered that my kids (who were not allowed to play “shooter” video games) developed a distinct style of driving (and a lot of unsafe habits) while playing their video driving games as pre-teens and young teenagers. In fact, I wound up spending a great deal of my time trying to undo these habits and deep set tendencies while my boys still had their learner's permits.
Technology was not in my vocabulary as a kid, but now it's at the front of the line. I’m not saying I’m against it, but could we step back a moment and catch our breath when it comes to technology and bus operations? It seems what used to be a fairly unobstructed view of the road ahead, and to the sides of the bus using simple dashboards and adequately sized mirrors, now appears to resemble a cockpit of the world’s most sophisticated aircraft.
Congratulations to METRO Magazine on celebrating its 110th year of serving the rail and transit industry! I was excited and, frankly, stunned to learn that I was named one of METRO’s 20 “Most Influential People of the Decade” as part of the magazine’s observance of this milestone. Being included in the company of these well-known and respected transportation professionals and policymakers is a rewarding and humbling experience, and underscores the benefits of working together to further improve the safety and efficiency of public transportation.