Passenger Safety: The Impact of Smoother Bus Acceleration on Passenger Experience Aboard London Buses

Transport policy, in many cities in the world, is encouraging people to use more active modes of transport in preference to the car. Public transport, especially buses, plays an important part in the implementation of this policy. It provides the means for non-car users to travel distances that are too great to walk without difficulty, but most importantly it has the power to create active cities, the members of which enjoy better health and well-being and a cleaner environment. Nonetheless, there tends to be an assumption that current bus systems, in terms of routes, services, operations, infrastructure and vehicles, are sufficient for people to use, without taking too much trouble to understand the difficulties of using the service as it is currently operated. For example, a maximum acceleration of 3.6 m/s2 was measured amongst various bus routes in London (Karekla, X., 2016). Previous scientific work, however, has shown that, when acceleration is higher than 2.0 m/s2 (Dorn, 1998), standing passengers are very likely to fall over if they don’t hold a handrail. This highlights the severity of the current bus acceleration in London, which is the third most important factor responsible for bus passenger dissatisfaction (Transport Focus, 2015). Older passengers, especially, are disproportionally represented in non-collision accidents, due to their reduced body capabilities and 3000 falls per year are reported on London buses in the UK for those 65-year-old and over (Kendrick, D. et al., 2015). Similar statistics can be found for other European countries and the US, which shows its global importance. Reducing non-collision injuries aboard buses would greatly reduce the budget spent by health services, as hospitalisation and physiological support to treat fear of falling, usually experienced by the elderly, will reduce. This work focuses on the London bus system and examines a number of real-life situations passengers find themselves in when travelling by bus. It challenges the smoothness of the current bus service by simulating 5 different levels of acceleration (static, stationary, low, medium and high acceleration) whilst analysing people’s balance on the lower deck and stairs of a double-decker bus. Walking patterns from 29 regular bus users, between the ages of 20 and 80, were collected and statistical methods were employed to draw conclusions on the significant factors causing imbalances for moving passengers during bus journeys (Karekla, X. et al., 2018a and 2018b). Based on sound evidence, an acceleration threshold is proposed, which would increase passenger safety if bus operators were to apply it (Karekla, X. et al., 2018 and 2019). Alongside the experimental part, this work also discusses the travel patterns and preferences of these 29 regular bus users. Through questionnaires, they state what they want to be able to do during bus journeys, e.g. where they want to sit, and which of these the current service allows. They express which of the examined accelerations better represent the service they are provided and point out the areas of the bus layout in which they are more prone to lose their balance. Interestingly, for some age groups and genders their expressed opinion is not in line with their walking pattern, making it even more apparent that passenger safety cannot be assessed by what’s obvious to the naked eye. This work is the first of its kind (Karekla, X., 2016) and only recently has started attracting attention. The complexity of the experimental work explains the reasons why so far either only moving passengers or only moving vehicles were studied to examine passenger safety. This work combines the two and examines the real-life situation. It was presented to local bus operators and the transport authority in the UK, who respectively initiated actions of investigating ways to provide better feedback to bus drivers to improve their driving performance and are exploring ways to reduce bus accidents. It was also presented to an international conference in the US, where it generated discussions with transport operators and the general public. The London bus system is considered advanced compared to other systems. Therefore, this work has the potential to act as a pathway for transferring knowledge to policy makers around the world and to showcase that by improving passenger safety, both the passengers and the operators would enjoy the benefits of active transportation. Providing feedback to drivers though an innovative device or removing the control of acceleration away from the drivers by controlling the bus engine would improve passenger experience. These should be part of future investigations around this topic.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Bibliography; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 14p
  • Monograph Title: European Transport Conference 2020

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01765165
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 16 2021 2:52PM