How was your commute this morning? Shakey?
One MUNI driver, who asked not to be named, told us that keeping standers on the bus standing isn’t specifically part of the eight-week training MUNI drivers receive. But everything they’re taught and tested on goes to keeping passengers safe. That, the driver said, includes making smooth, gradual starts and stops, turns as broad as conditions allow and not starting a bus until all passengers are either seated or holding on to something.
The California DMV rulebook for drivers in charge of public passengers addresses this question only briefly in its Section – Loading and Unloading:
“Bus drivers need to consider passenger safety during loading and unloading. Always ensure your passengers are safely on the bus before closing the door(s) and pulling away. Allow passengers enough time to sit down or brace themselves before departing. Starting and stopping should be as smooth as possible to avoid rider injury.”
A cursory survey of a handful of U.S. transportation agency driver instruction manuals, including MUNI’s, make but brief mention of the need for smooth stops and starts, but rarely specifically mention the safety of standing passengers, and keeping them standing.
The Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia, a Spanish technology center that studies the behavior of people in relation to products they use, states the obvious in saying people (the elderly, in particular) who travel standing up in buses or trains are susceptible of suffering falls and injuries. The institute has also found, however, that safety measures mostly target seated passengers.
An Israeli study from 2003, however, acknowledges the problem of “non-collision injuries in public buses.” Again, the elderly are the most susceptible to injury, according to the study. A British study that same year states that:
  • 64 percent of bus passengers killed or seriously injured on buses or coaches in Great Britain are injured in non-collision incidents (including sudden stops)
  • 74 percent of those casualties are women
  • 58 percent are 60 years of age or older
We reached out to MUNI spokesman Paul Rose and have yet to hear back. We will let you know when we do.
What questions does this leave you with? Makes me wonder why buses are even allowed to have standing passengers. Let me know and we will see what else we can find.

This answer was produced by Pactio and journalist Sam Richards. Now, it’s time for you to ask your question.

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