Any way you want to label them, bus "convex" and "real view" mirror discussions generate as much passion as who was the better centerfielder in New York: Mantle, Mays or DiMaggio. Let's put a few misconceptions about these mirrors to rest and get the best use out of them.
Some operators claim they can't drive a bus unless they are equipped with convex mirrors. I have also heard from those who hate them. Any tool that can "help" — and that's the key word — "help" the operator is something useful.
1) The convex mirror cannot accurately display the true distance that an object is away from the bus/rear tires.
2) The convex mirror should cry out to the operator that "there is something here that may not yet have appeared in your real view mirror yet, so you better transfer to your real view mirror to get the accurate distance from the object." Hear this every time you go to your "convex" mirror.
Relying on the convex mirror to check your pivot point when turning — with the exception of the split real view on top and convex on the bottom found on the articulated bus — will not give the operator the true distance the object is away from the bus. You should never guess how close the pedestrian/object is to the rear tires when turning by using the "convex mirror." If you are not using the "real view" mirror when checking your pivot point on turns, than it's just a matter of time before you get involved in a not so pleasant situation.
The exception again is the articulated bus. The articulated buses that I instructed on, if the mirrors are set properly, the only mirror that will display the rear tires when turning is the "convex."
"Convex" says - There's something close to the bus.
"Real View" says - How close?
Know the differences.
If you're not careful, the "convex" mirror can make you lazy. Teach the benefits of all mirrors to your students and that proper mirror set up and utilization are keys to safe operations. When I was a new bus driver, some buses were equipped with neither a real view nor a convex mirror on the right side. All we had was the reflection coming from the right rear interior ceiling and my tilted center interior mirror to manage the right side of the bus. Manhattan driving with no right side mirrors was a great experience! Talk about "covering your right?" That's another story.
Spend a little more time on mirror introduction when beginning a new class.
A situation where the "convex" mirror outweighs the "real" view is just before closing the front doors when preparing to leave a bus stop:
RIGHT SIDE CONVEX MIRROR reveals the child alongside mid-bus, behind the right front tires and forward of the rear doors. A child is sometimes sent by a parent "go tell the operator to wait." The child is not tall enough to appear in the center mirror or through the windows and will only appear in the right side convex mirror. The area below the window where the child usually is as you begin to close the doors becomes visible in the "convex" mirror.
CENTER MIRROR (tilted down to the right of course) reveals who may be running for the bus coming from the right side that may not yet have appeared in the real view.
We've come a long way.
Soon after reaching my 20th year in the transit industry, back in 1993, after a draining day of addressing routine bus issues, I would cross paths with another employee, who I always remember, seemed to be quietly “doing his own little daily gig.”
Years ago, I was with Louie Maiello when someone walked over and asked him for some advice: “We’re having problems with people remembering to secure the bus before they leave their seat. Do you have any advice? How can we get them to remember?” Without missing a beat, Louie said “PIN it.” The advice seeker happened to be a veteran mechanic, so he understood and walked away to resume his work. I stood there for a while scratching my head. Pin it?
Diagnose, Prescribe & Follow-Up, are the usual doctor’s actions that are utilized when visiting the doctor’s office for whatever is ailing us. This formula should also apply within your training department with regard to the ailment of Bus Collisions.
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?"