People that travel standing up in buses are susceptible of suffering falls and injuries, particularly elderly people. Safety measures, however, mostly target seated passengers.
The Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) and the Universitat Politècnica de València along with other research centres and metropolitan bus networks have completed the SAFEBUS project which aims to improve the safety of bus users.
The study showed that the frequency of incidents is very low, mostly caused by accelerations or brusque braking. There were no major injuries or wounds. Several of these incidents, can be related directly to design elements, such as corridor width, seat space, height of the step, grips, door closing, etc.
The most conflictive locations in the inner cabin are the entrance and the exit of the bus, the access to the seats and the main corridor. The passengers most likely to be involved in an incident are older persons but they usually use the reserved seats and are very careful; in fact they wait until the bus has fully stopped to get off.
At the moment, there are different public transport vehicles on the market with safety solutions that are, basically, targeting seated users. However, standing passengers are still the most vulnerable, especially older persons. More specifically, falls associated with transport account for 10% of total falls in this group.
"The SAFEBUS project aims to cover this gap on the market by offering a safer and more user-oriented integrated system, trying to avoid falls of standing passengers, or with passengers being knocked down in the areas for getting on or off the bus," explains the director of Automobile and Mass Transport Area in IBV, José Solaz.
"We can improve safety if, for example, we extend the corridor and open area with semi-sitting seats with a grip function that makes access for passengers inside the bus easier, especially if they are carrying bags or trolleys, and also offer them somewhere to rest comfortably. Although there are solutions such as non-slip floors and vertical grips, we can work on designs that allow multiple grips to standing passengers in order to have good support at different heights," said José Solaz.
Public transport by bus in cities is designed as a succession of stops where passengers get on and off the vehicle according to their destination, and where users may travel either standing or seated. These peculiarities of urban transport involve that when buses stop, the movement of people around the bus is high, thus multiplying the possibilities of an accident. The project also aims to avoid the problems associated with these situations.
SAFEBUS project is co-funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the National Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation Plan, and by the European Union through the ERDF funds.
Alongside the Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) and Centro Zaragoza, the project features the participation of Cognitive Robots (as coordinator), Castrosua and Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) through the Instituto de Diseño y Fabricación (IDF). Also, EMT Valencia and TUZSA, metropolitan bus networks of Valencia and Zaragoza, have collaborated in the field studies.
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