Buses have never been regarded as the most comfortable mode of transport ever invention but there are rumours that is all about to change. Coaches are now appearing with a higher degree of comfort all over the globe, although these are mainly for long distances it will filter down gradually to even the average school bus.
The public transport industry is going through radical transformations in many ways, innovative companies like School Travel Manager now work with group transportation companies with software solutions to help transport children in a more secure manner.
Couple this with improvements of safety and comfort on buses, it seems that the commute to school is soon to be a very different experience for many kids.
Safety is where a great deal of innovation has taken place, taking statistics in consideration buses are one of the safest modes of transportation. In the EU for example, there were just under 31,000 fatalities due to traffic accidents, and only 2.4% involved bus or coach passengers.
Taking a similar statistic in America by the US National Highway Traffic Administration in 2013, 0.1% of all related traffic related fatalities were on buses.
Buses were not always that safe, and in the not too distant past it was a different matter entirely. But as time has progressed a combination of legislation and technology started to kick in.
Only a few countries have actually made wearing seatbelts on buses compulsory ( Hong Kong, France, Italy, Japan, Germany and Singapore). But evidence has shown that without a doubt seatbelts do save lives. One example in the UK in 2014 is that of a coach filled with families that crashed and overturned, everybody on board was wearing a seatbelt and only one person suffered serious injury.
The EU have introduced new rules in 2018 that all new buses hitting the roads will have to be fitted with automated emergency brakes and lane departure warning systems. And the intention is to enforce intelligent speed assistance, this works so the bus can read the speed limit of the road (GPS database) and slow the vehicle down automatically.
The End Game
So where is all this heading? Well all the smart new technology is searching for the Holy Grail of safety, and that is driverless buses which are fully automated. One of the big advantages of these kind of vehicles is that they will be able to use lane-assist programs.
This allows the buses to use the small narrow hard shoulder when there are traffic problems or in cities. A GPS system assists the driver in staying in the narrow lanes, if the vehicle goes astray the visual display will change colour and the driver’s seat will vibrate on the side the bus is veering to and a torque motor will pull the steering wheel back to the center.
Platoon systems are also being considered as a real possibility, these systems link vehicles together so they travel in safety as a convoy. The front bus controls the speed while the following vehicles safely follow behind at fixed distances.
Volvo have been testing systems where the buses route is pre-programmed and the speed controlled. So when the bus is due to pass a school the bus is programmed to travel at 20mph for instance.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the school bus commute is going to get a whole lot safer for school kids and it looks as though it will not be that too far away.