Oregon to try talking buses to warn pedestrians

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by Mike Benner, KGW Staff

KREM.com

Posted on March 2, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Updated Sunday, Mar 2 at 10:00 AM

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. 

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