This month, I will be addressing a question asked of me a few weeks ago at APTA’s Bus & Paratransit Conference in Long Beach, Calif. I would also like to thank those who took a moment to introduce themselves as followers of this blog page in Metro Magazine.
While at the coffee bar, I was approached by a transit professional who asked where I thought it was safer to place bus stops, at the nearside or farside of an intersection? We agreed that agencies, over the years for safety reasons, have been favoring the farside bus stops as opposed to the nearside stops. For those who may be unaware of the meaning of farside vs. nearside stops, farside are those placed on the far side of the intersection and nearside stops are at the near side of the intersection.
One of the main reasons, if not the main reason for relocating bus stops from the nearside to the farside of the intersections, was the increase in the number of collisions that occurred at nearside stops due to vehicles along the left side of the bus moving left to right in front of the bus in an attempt to make a right turn. This usually resulted in a collision and/or onboard injuries as a result of a heavy brake application by the bus operator to avoid contact with the left front side portion of the bus and the vehicle sweeping from left to right to attempt the right turn. Many times, this also occurred as the operator was attempting to move straight/left to depart the bus stop.
Below I have listed a few pros and cons for both nearside and farside placement of bus stops. Remember, most stops were moved and are still being moved due to the belief that farside is safer than nearside. I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Bus Stop placement, wherever it may be, brings many challenges to a bus operator. Next time you are on a bus, see how many hazards the bus operator has to deal with entering and exiting. Adding to these two types of bus stops are stops in mid-block and after a right and left turn — a whole different set of challenges with these types. Thought it was easy, eh? Here we go:
- Transferring customers from a crosstown bus coming from the front, visible to the operator.
- Entering at a slower rate of speed, increasing the time to take corrective action to deal with someone stepping from the curb.
- Pedestrians waiting to cross do so while the bus is already standing and not moving into the stop.
- Vehicles that are moving from same direction left of bus, attempting to turn right at the cross street in front of bus.
- Operators having to maneuver around and merge between vehicles that are attempting to turn right into cross street from left and front of bus.
- No cross street in front of bus to contend with, therefore, no vehicles attempting to turn right in front of bus.
- Bus moving at a greater speed through the intersection, increasing the chance of a collision with a vehicle moving opposite direction of bus that attempts a left turn in front of bus.
- Pedestrian stepping out from the right corner curb as the bus approaches the bus stop.
- Pedestrian(s) stepping from the bus stop (horseplay).
- Second bus entering an already occupied bus stop, causing a portion of the bus to overhang into the intersection. (Extremely dangerous and highly unprofessional!)
- Vehicles occupying dedicated right turn only lanes, instead of turning, decide to proceed straight, and have come between the bus and the approaching farside bus stop. (Happens all the time, and not a good feeling having the right side of the bus exposed to moving vehicles.) A training bus no-no.
What are your thoughts? Please add to my list and state your opinion.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: Is your agency ready for the ‘big one’?," here.
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.