In my last blog we discussed bus stop placement pros and cons. Last week I received an email regarding mid-block bus stops and how to make these stops as safe as possible. Servicing bus stops in mid-block and after right and left turns will be covered here. I will also review boarding and alighting of customers.
In the case of mid-block stops that I have had experience with, the stop was usually placed directly behind metered or unmetered parked vehicles. With mid-block stops placed between parked vehicles, operators may have a tight area to maneuver into, so it is very important to make the decision early whether they feel they can place their bus in a completely curbed and parallel parked position. This is the safest and most customer-friendly option as far as the safety issue. It is not acceptable to nose the bus in at an angle leaving the left rear of bus vulnerable to oncoming vehicle contact.
Due to insufficient space or an obstructed stop, operators may be forced to stop parallel to curb in the #2 lane. If this is the case, although the curb lane is occupied with parked vehicles, they must not take for granted that they are completely secure on their right side. I have seen where the first vehicle that was parked to the right side rear was occupied and the motorist attempted to squeeze up that right lane and place the boarding and alighting customers at extreme danger even with the kneeler in its required deployed position.
One last thing about midblock stops, not having as much activity as the nearside or farside stops, operators can be in danger of not being as attentive to their surroundings around the bus, especially concerning pedestrians. In an urban setting, these stops might be the least favorite of bus operators. Stay straight, stay right-side protected, stay alert.
Bus Stops Directly After a Right Turn
Danger: Thinking about bus placement in bus stop before ensuring that the right rear pivot area has successfully cleared the curb.
I have seen many students focused solely on getting the bus to the curb, resulting in oversteering on the turn rather than first ensuring right rear clearance.
Remember, on a right turn as in any turn:
- The Set Up is first. The type of turn and bus placement before the turn, determines how to maneuver into the turn.
- Walk the bus around the corner and ensure right rear pivot clearance away from curb/pedestrians.
- Finally, Think Bus Stop only after confirming right rear pivot area clearance from curb, pedestrians and other fixed objects, then completing the turn and positioning bus into stop.
Bus Stops Immediately After a Left Turn
Squaring off this turn and positioning the bus deep into the intersection to set up the turn will provide maximum protection.
The right side of the bus will be covered and protected while turning left from the right side sweeper attempting to turn left with the bus.
It will ensure that operator will have maximum visibility to pedestrians crossing either right to left or left to right in front of bus.
Positioning deep into the intersection will prevent oncoming vehicles turning right, access to the right lane between the bus and bus stop.
Boarding and Alighting
1 – Avoiding pedestrian contact with doors: With front doors open, rear door interlock engaged and service brake applied, keep left hand on the door handle from the moment the doors are opened until closing.
2 - Before closing doors, check interior center mirror (or over the right shoulder) for anyone approaching from the right rear side of bus. Angle the center mirror to a high left/low right position to widen the view along the right side rear curb area of the bus and to ensure the rear door area is clear of obstructions.
3 - Check right flat real-view mirror (non-convex) to expose activity alongside the right of bus.
4 - Check right convex mirror where a shorter person, like a child, (who may not be visible in the real-view mirror or naked eye of the operator) will be visible.
5 – Keep eyes on front door area before closing doors. After ensuring that it’s permissible to close doors (hazard free), place the door handle to the closed position while watching doors close in preparation for a late arriving boarder. Signal left and under no circumstance move left before looking left.
Follow the 3 S's of Surface Transportation - Safety, Service, and Schedule.
Bus operators are not blindfolded. Operators are trained and required to identify potential hazards, based on their forward planning skills. With regard to left turns, these so called “blind spots” are really areas behind the left A-pillar/mirror that are “temporarily” obstructed to the operator, not blind to the operator. The key here is for the operators to utilize their observation and forward planning skills to minimize the time that their vision is temporarily obstructed. The pedestrian that regrettably becomes a victim of bus contact should be in the clear view of the operator long before arriving at the location where the contact occurred. Pedestrians are not “coming out of nowhere!"
The world is a very busy place. We rely on our eyes to provide us with information that will keep us from harm as we operate our vehicles. It is difficult to over-emphasize the importance of effective scanning in order to recognize potential hazards early enough so appropriate action can be taken to avoid conflict. As a result, we spend a lot of time advising operators how often they should scan their mirrors, where to look for hazards, and how to bring objects into view that may be temporarily obstructed, and so on.
Today I’d like to mention a few effective policies that were routinely utilized in the past, which were (and for the few agencies that still practice them) very effective in producing safe bus operators, including covering your right, terminal checks and company vehicles.
Operating a fixed-route bus in today’s distracted world requires high levels of focus and concentration. The brain must continually sift through loads of information during bus operation to determine what things can be ignored and what things pose a potential threat to our safety and well-being. Once the brain detects a potential hazard or threat, a specific response must occur to keep us from harm’s way. When our brains are forced to sustain this level of effort for long periods of time a great deal of energy is required.
It’s no secret that I am a firm believer in bus simulator training. I enjoyed the benefits of utilizing simulators as a supplemental training tool during my days at New York City Transit. The simulators helped us produce outstanding results by targeting specific outcomes. If your simulator training is not producing what you expected it to deliver, the answer is plain and simple: something is wrong!