Greetings! I would like to answer the following question sent to me and thank the transit professional for doing so:
"Just this week, we have had three bus accidents. One type of ‘repeater accident’ has been occurring in the garage involving the driver’s left rear side of our 45-foot [bus]. When turning right, the left rear driver’s side swings out and catches the roof support pole. The last two accidents took out the rear side glass. I need some preventive ideas.”
This is the classic overhang problem. These types of incidents have decreased dramatically over the years as a result of the well-lit, state-of-the-art depots being built and the additional training given to the shifters/drillers — individuals who, at the end of the day, take returning buses and place them in their overnight slots.
During the days of poorly lit, outdated, smaller depots, or ‘barns’ as they were once called, this type of contact within the obstruction-filled space occurred during the “Still of the Night.” Often, the damage was not noticed until a responsible operator on pull-out conducted a thorough pre-trip inspection the following morning. Some of you may remember the days prior to pre-trip inspections, when a ‘no knowledge’ response was usually the term that was used when being questioned about bus damage, in general.
Regarding the question, knowing your bus model dynamics (e.g., pivot points and mirror positioning) is just part of the solution. Some of the causes of these contacts occurring within the depots are:
1) Failure to check for insufficient clearance around the bus.
2) Failing to re-adjust mirrors upon relieving the departing operator.
3) Failing to stay alert and forward-plan around the trouble spot.
4) Oversteering to the right.
5) Speed, although I would hate to think that speed (especially in the depot) would be a contributor.
Consider the following:
1) Ensure that the pole is clearly visible, even if it means painting it a different color that would make it even more visible to alert the operator of this particular trouble spot.
2) Create a handout to be posted in the depots and around the garage pull-out area alerting all to this problem.
3) Bring all student operators around this turn and provide them with the opportunity to watch you negotiate around this area. Then, have them do it while alerting them to the importance of knowing your surroundings and the limitations of your bus.
4) Go to your outdoor training area and place a cone near the pivot point of each different size bus and show them the consequences of what happens when oversteering and not thoroughly understanding the different pivot points (not getting permission), by moving the cone from the pivot areas to a point that will create contact with the bus. You can also go to the simulator and create a scenario where, unlike in the depot, the low-risk environment of a simulator can effectively deal with a high-risk situation of contact with fixed objects.
An operator handout reminder for the garage/depot area can consist of the following points:
- How much clearance do I have?
- What model bus am I operating?
- Are my mirrors providing the info I need?
- What must I do differently?
- When in doubt, secure bus and GET OUT AND LOOK!
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: Congress, stop kicking transportation bill down the road" here.
I’ve been noticing a rising number of folks — driving vehicles of all types — rushing through intersections after the signal has reached a full and solid red. There is one particular intersection in town where motorists continue to plow through the red signal as if stopping has somehow become optional. Rushing through intersections is not a safe practice and proceeding through a red signal still happens to be a traffic violation. This should be a secret to no one. Yet, it seems to happen all the time.
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.”