Pierre Raby has won an award for his tireless work in convincing his employer to fund an ergonomics study and to put cameras on the buses, worked with the bus manufacturer to get safer buses.
A somewhat interesting article, and in many cities where transit is a higher priority like in Montreal this could work nicely, but in our City where we are literal captives to purchasing from Flyer, we don’t have the same power that other cities have when it comes to making competition work for them, why would anybody put in a competitive offer for us when we’ve only once in 25 years bought from a competitor, MCI’s from Quebec.? And why would Flyer bother working to make a better bus for us when we will buy from them anyway, especially knowing we’ll spend as little as possible as well and they pretty much have to accommodate us because it looks so bad if your own home town won’t buy your product. Now if I were to play devils advocate and suspect the driver described above is working with MCI, then why hasn’t Flyer taken on the same initiatiative, over the years our drivers and mechanics have solved some dilemmas for Flyer when their own designers couldn’t, like the old pop out doors originally had the right outside mirror attached to the door instead of being attached to the bus body, a change suggested by Wpg Transit Drivers. And many other little things that would have been nice to have had like the door opener control right beside us instead of reaching forward like we did for almost 20 years with the old 100’s and early 600’s,? and the raise and lower control as well as the ramp control should be on the side switch panel instead of on the dash panel forcing drivers to reach froward each time they need to use them. These would be relatively easy fixes, but after years of using them I bet they don’t even know its a concern. This really surprises me since they got complaints when drivers were leaning forward to use the mic’s when we were announcing stops, why is leaning for ward to use these controls any different, many drivers are told now to use them at every stop. A repetitive stress injury just waiting to happen, and they don’t seem to? see it coming.
As long as we buy from the cheapest supplier and have no competition we will always have problems getting products that are top of the line, and until we get a proper representative for drivers when ordering buses, as was asked for in the Focus Groups,? without such input on what bothers us most or what would make our lives? a little easier, we will keep getting buses designed by engineers who haven’t a clue about what its like to drive one in service.
Except maybe the times are changing, ironically I ran into a retired driver friend this winter who was one of? a few who was starting a new job with Flyer to do exactly what I say is needed above, they get paid to drive around the city in their new buses and pretend they are in service complete with making stops and picking up phantom passengers, all to get a real world feel for the bus and to make recommendations for improvements. A nice step in the right direction, but I hope they have enough of an experienced well rounded view to make the sort of recommendations that would help us get better buses.? As an example, many cities have various driver perks and added amenities that have just always been there and they could make an improvement in design or ease use if one is aware of the item, one such example is while in Cuba I rode a double decker tour bus which essentially is a low floor design not unlike our low floors, the driver sits up high like us on the low floors.? They have? a bar, a metal bar, not the kind of bar you thought of right away:), and it is hinged behind the driver and comes down across the opening of the drivers compartment and attaches roughly where the transfer cutter is, a terrific idea I thought as it would prevent a driver from tumbling out of the drivers compartment if they stand up to check the signs or the overhead compartment, the drop from their compartment is over a foot, like ours and it gave the driver something to lean against when he stood up to face the back to see if people were trying to alight or whatever, it also gave the driver a place to rest his right arm as he drove and would be a good place to hang one’s schedule or put a cup holder, etc.? As an added benefit in a confrontation it could help to prevent an assailant from getting directly to you as they have this horizontal bar between you and them. Not a bad idea at all, and in a place like Cuba they need openness as it gets quite hot obviously, so they would shy away from shields, also the level of crime, particularly on a tour bus is not a big concern I would think and they also use conductors to remove the onus from the driver for fare collection, etc,? so it seems that it is more for health and safety protection for the driver from falling out of the drivers compartment than it is for protection from others considering all the above,? still not a bad idea at all.? Maybe it would be a reasonable compromise instead of shields, combine it with a small shield like we’ve seen and it could help to secure the shield as well as help to keep us safe and secure and add a touch of comfort.
So as I was saying, if all they are doing is hiring people who have never driven elsewhere or never made a point of investigating other properties to evaluate the equipment that is out there, then they will bring a relatively limited perspective to the table when making advisements for change.? So hopefully they make these drivers aware of the things available that regularly gets ordered from other cities, and hopefully these ideas get passed down to the people who do the ordering for our city and they pay some attention to making some wise choices so we could end up with some very comfortable rides.
Had these same considerations been made 10 or 20 years ago, we might not have 10% of the workforce off for health related problems in part from the cheap is better and they won’t miss it if they never see it? policies of the past.? Sometimes you get what you pay for, and when somebody is driving these things for upwards of 8, possibly now 10 hours a day you really should look at getting more than the minimum in areas where driver comfort are concerned as they can become driver injury after enough years.? Is saving a rather insignificant amount on a quarter of a million dollar bus worth the risk to the drivers health it will eventually pose over its 12 to 20 year life span?
I would recommend to anyone who is starting out, they should investigate getting an Obus Form backrest and seat combination, or the backrest at minimum and buy a slab of memory foam for the seat and get a cover made for it, you can buy sheets of 3 inch memory foam for a queen or king size bed at Walmart for around $100.00, and you could make probably 10 or more seat cushions out of them and sell the rest. Having a memory foam bed myself I can’t express the importance of how beneficial this would be to your back and neck in reducing whole body vibration, this alone could make your working life far less harmful than it currently is going to be, and hopefully make reaching a healthy retirement a reality instead of a roll of the dice.
As for the raising/lowering and ramp switches, with a little bit of ingenuity one could make small extenders that would bring the switches closer by extending the handle, use something like hard rubber tubing that won’t hurt you if you got into an accident and had your knee jammed up against it, just long enough to make reaching it without having to reach forward under the steering wheel to do so. This one small thing could reduce lower back problems immensely, and obviously compensation claims at the same time, like I said I can’t fathom why nobody has made an issue about it yet. Am I the only person it bothered?