PORTLAND -- TriMet will have more than two dozen talking buses on area roads starting Monday. An automated voice will warn pedestrians when the bus is about to make a turn.
"We're excited to do something we hope will make a difference for transit agencies," said TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt. "It will make a difference for waking up the distracted walkers out there."
Two women killed in April 2010 when a TriMet bus ran them down were not distracted. In fact, the bus driver was cited and later fired. But TriMet has to wonder if a talking bus would have prevented the tragedy.
The father of one of the victims does not think so. He said the new warning system is a smoke screen. He said safety will not improve until driver training does. Other riders we spoke with agreed.
"I don't see that being the total answer," said a rider Saturday morning.
TriMet officials do not believe it will hurt. That is why they submitted a proposal to the Federal Transit Administration. In return they were awarded $400,000 to install the new warning systems on a number of buses.
"Our focus at TriMet is to provide safe transit for our riders and our community," said Altstadt.
This is a trial. Trimet will asses the experiment and report back to the FTA in the fall.