The consequences of robots provide a stark contrast to the glistening, beautifully designed, brilliantly engineered, clean fuel-burning, energy-efficient vehicles displayed on the pages of NATIONAL BUS TRADER and other trade magazines. They are often creatively-deployed in well-marketed services, often optimizing both safety and comfort instead of trading one for the other
I would normally begin a series by exploring the origin of the problems. These would have included four decades of failure in multiple sectors of public transportation. Among its fellow modes, the motorcoach industry created the fewest of these failures. But the motorcoach industry has been limited in its capabilities...
With these dynamics, defensive driving is not a mere skill. It is a necessity. In their depositions, few professional drivers can identify even a handful of defensive driving principles...Robots have advantages beyond the elimination of jobs. Robots have no reaction time. They experience no fatigue. Disciplines like driver assignment cease to exist.
We are only a few years away from the complete consolidation of fixed route transportation (transit, motorcoach and schoolbus) and the complete consolidation of demand-responsive transportation (paratransit, taxi, limousine, NEMT and special education). This installment will lay the groundwork by comparing modern travel to travel 30 years ago. The opportunities for motorcoach operators to benefit from these changes are once-in-a-lifetime.
Early in my 42 years working in the public transportation field, I learned that the industry's Achilles Heel is negligent monitoring. Almost no one knows how to do this effectively. Few agencies or companies do this at all. Most of their officials do not care. So the industry is rife with crossing accidents, negligent retention, wheelchair tipovers and passenger molestation, among other common accident and incident scenarios.
In Part One of this short series, we explored the rudiments of reaction time and braking distance. The arithmetic for understanding both concepts was learned in the third grade (multiplication), fourth grade (long division), seventh grade (fractions) and eleventh grade (drivers' education).
Thankfully, mowing down pedestrians in a crosswalk is not yet commonplace. But it is also not rare. This incident scenario is most common to transit buses making left turns (see "The Danger Deterrent," NATIONAL BUS TRADER, April 2016) But it happens occasionally with almost every transportation mode. Yet the defenses almost always cited by the drivers are no match for someone with a high school diploma.
As with most things, the ADA requirement to make all new motorcoaches purchased after 2001 wheelchair-accessible, and the 2015 ruling to install three-point occupant restraint systems, introduced an entirely new spectrum of safety, liability and social concerns to the motorcoach industry. But a couple of responses to these requirements, particularly by one OEM and one supplier, have opened up a whole new set of opportunities for savvy motorcoach operators.