MTA Testing “Talking Bus” Technology That Will Blare Warnings At Pedestrians

December 31, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

You may soon discern another sound among the honking, yelling, and construction sites along the streets of New York City: warning messages from MTA buses. According to the the New York Daily News, the MTA is developing a pilot program in which it will alert pedestrians to stay clear at turns by blaring warnings from exterior-mounted speakers.

The “talking bus” technology is already being tested or used in a few cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Portland, Cleveland, and Baltimore. In accordance with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, the MTA hopes that it will bring bus-related casualties down:

The MTA’s bus-collision rate has dropped 46% from 92 collisions per million miles traveled in 1988 to 50 per million miles last year, according to the MTA. Still, 55 pedestrians and seven bicyclists were killed in collisions with buses, including those operated by private companies, since 2010, according to the city Transportation Department.

The warning is pre-recorded, and increases in volume along with traffic. The MTA is not sure how many buses will participate in the pilot, but expects to test it in the fall. Along with the speakers, the MTA is examining the use of use radar and sensors to alert bus drivers of activity in their blind spots.

“The MTA works hard to ensure its bus fleet operates safely on the streets of New York,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Adam Lisberg, continuing, “and we will test new technologies next year to keep improving bus safety.”

(Photo: Canadian Pacific)