A new pilot program being launched by SEPTA today will audibly warn pedestrians in the vicinity of a bus when the vehicle is making a turn. The “Safe Turn Alert System” pilot is an extension of the authority’s distracted commuter awareness program and designed to warn pedestrians – specifically those engrossed in their phone calls, text messages and music – that the bus is turning.
“We are seeing more cases of people unaware of their surroundings,” said Scott Sauer, SEPTA’s Chief Officer of System Safety. “The Safe Turn Alert system uses an audio warning and a strobe light to make pedestrians aware that the bus is making a right- or left-hand turn. This is an added layer to our already extensive ‘Make The Safe Choice’ campaign, not only geared toward our customers, but to the millions of area residents and visitors that interact with SEPTA on a daily basis.”
Protran’s Safe Turn Alert Systems have been installed in 12 SEPTA buses for the pilot program. The device is connected to the bus’ steering column and the “Caution Bus Turning” alert is triggered when the operator makes a turn. In addition to the external warnings, an announcement is made to the operator inside the bus.
SEPTA’s pilot program will run through October 2015. The Safe Turn Alert-equipped buses will be used on specific routes at each of SEPTA’s eight bus districts, operating throughout SEPTA’s five county service area. One route per week will use the buses in regular service. “To get an accurate snapshot of the system’s functionality, we chose routes where buses make many turns,” said Sauer. SEPTA’s Callowhill District will test the devices first, beginning with the Route 31 during the week of March 16-22.
“Our Operations, Training, System Safety and Vehicle Engineering and Maintenance Departments will evaluate the system throughout the pilot program,” said Sauer. “We will examine the volume of the alerts during turns, reactions of passengers and pedestrians to the audio and visual warnings, additional technical issues and the general upkeep of the system.”
SEPTA System Safety, Operations and Training staff will ride the buses at various times and days of the week to review the system in action and gauge public response. Operators will also complete questionnaires about the system after each run. “The public is invited to provide feedback, too, by contacting SEPTA Customer Service at 215-580-7800 or via www.septa.org,” said Sauer.
Protran’s Safe Turn Alert Systems are currently used by L.A. Metro, Greater Cleveland RTA, PACE Bus (Chicago) and Maryland Transit Administration. “There has been an industry trend to equip vehicles with enhanced safety systems,” said Sauer. “If we receive positive evaluations and feedback from the pilot program, SEPTA could add a turn alert system to its bus fleet in the near future.”
For a list of the pilot test buses and schedule and to view a video of the Turn Alert System in use, visit https://www.septa.org/safety/bus-turn-alert.html.