The Perils of Public Transit

You all know about the trials and tribulations of TriMet, our local public transit agency. After an accident that resulted in the deaths of two pedestrians, TriMet implemented a safety review. The firm hired to conduct the review, K&J Safety and Security Consulting Services, made a number of suggestions, including installing a system that “talks” to pedestrians and others outside of the bus to warn them that a bus is about to make a turn. On Monday, February 28, 2011, TriMet began trying out the system on 10 buses on lines 14 or 15.

The audible warning system, which cost about $46,000 for the initial phase, announces turns in both English and Spanish and is triggered when a driver starts entering a turn (the units are mounted in the bus’s steering column). If TriMet decides to install the system on all its buses (more than 600 buses), it could cost about $2.8 million.

So far the consensus on the audible warning system is not overwhelmingly positive. The Oregonian reported that the system often announced turns when buses were not turning. For more information, see this article. For some opinions about the system thus far, see this article.