London’s Mayor launches world-leading bus safety programme

1 February 2016  •  Author(s): Charlotte Batchelor

The Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) have launched a world-leading programme to drive major improvements in safety across London’s bus network.

London’s Mayor launches world-leading bus safety programme

Although the Capital’s bus fleet is one of the safest in the world, with 2.5 injuries for every million passenger journeys, the Mayor and TfL are committed to reducing collisions further and have created this brand new six-point programme to improve safety.

The programme will bring together the newest technology, training, incentives, support, reporting and transparency right across the network, contributing to TfL’s work towards meeting the Mayor’s target of halving the number of people killed or seriously injured on the Capital’s roads by 2020.

The six-point programme will:

  1. Develop a world leading bus safety standard for London – a range of innovative new technologies are currently being considered including collision avoidance systems, which utilise sensors to warn drivers of potential dangers and trigger Automatic Emergency Braking systems, and Intelligent Speed Adaption, which is currently being trialled on our buses. Other potential design innovations include improving wing mirror design and windscreen glazing to reduce the impact of any collision. The latest safety technologies and products will be developed and tested by manufacturers on London Buses throughout 2016 and incorporated into new buses delivered from September 2017 in order to help avoid and mitigate the impact of collisions involving buses.
  2. Update TfL’s bus contracts to include new safety incentives – over the next three months TfL will be updating their bus contracting system and will develop incentives to encourage an even greater focus on safety. Through a series of workshops TfL will look at how incentives can be used to help reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSIs) on the London Bus network.
  3. Provide a UK-first Incident Support Service for those affected by fatal or serious injuries – in order to provide a better service to those affected by a fatal or life changing injury on the transport network, including a bus collision, TfL is creating a UK first Incident Support Service within its Customer Services Team, which will be available from April 2016. Immediately after an incident has taken place, the service will be available to offer emotional and practical support and provide a single, named point of contact at TfL.
  4. Publish additional bus collision data and making it more accessible – TfL began publishing bus safety statistics on its website in June 2014 to further improving transparency for customers and other stakeholders. Initially, details of incidents resulting in a fatality or injury requiring hospital attendance were published. Last year, TfL extended this to publication of all incidents resulting in any form of injury. As part of the Bus Safety Programme, from spring TfL will publish additional bus collision data that will break the most serious collisions down by road user group. On a dedicated web page TfL will also make information more accessible and provide graphs illustrating long-term trends. The new web page will also link to the London Collision Map, which highlights when and where bus collisions have occurred.
  5. Provide greater transparency on bus collision investigations – for the first time, TfL will clearly set out how fatal and serious injury collisions on the bus network are investigated and the processes that are followed by TfL, the bus operators and the police. In addition, TfL will be reporting annually on the legal outcome of all fatal and serious bus collisions.
  6. Provide a new safety training module to all 24,700 drivers – TfL continues to invest in the most stringent bus driver training in the UK. By the end of 2016 bespoke ‘In the Zone’ training will have been delivered to all 24,700 bus drivers in the Capital. In the Zone raises drivers’ awareness of the risks that we take when we’re out on the road, whether that be as a driver of a vehicle, or as a vulnerable road user such as a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist. It is hoped that over time the training will encourage drivers to make small but significant adjustments in the way they assess risks and that this will lead to a reduction in the number of incidents on London’s roads. The training will form part of the City and Guilds qualification that is compulsory for all new drivers and replaces the BTEC qualification from April 2016. TfL is also exploring pre-qualification testing for driver recruitment to be piloted from spring 2016.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “I’m proud that we have one of the safest bus networks in the world, but I’m determined to see it get even better. By creating this world-leading programme we will be placing an even greater focus on safety, making the most of the latest technology and bold initiatives to help keep passengers and vulnerable road users safe. Through this we will be able to make real progress towards my target of significantly reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads.”

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “The Capital’s bus network is very safe and we are determined to take action to make it even safer. The Bus Safety Programme will examine a range of improvements, from vehicle design to bus driver training, from giving more information to the public to provision of support to those affected by serious bus incidents. We will also provide more information about bus safety and the outcomes of investigations into the most serious incidents.”

Beccie D’Cunha, Chief Executive Officer of RoadPeace, said: “RoadPeace welcomes this innovative and wide ranging bus safety programme from the Mayor and Transport for London. It demonstrates a continued commitment to the safety of all road users. We particularly welcome the programme’s focus on tackling danger at source, as well as greater transparency around casualty data and collision investigation. The commitment to support victims is also ground breaking and should inspire other authorities to follow.”

Sarah Hope, victim of a collision in 2007 in which she was seriously injured, her mother died and her daughter lost her leg said: “I have been in talks with TfL for nearly a year now and they have listened with open hearts and minds to the needs of victims of serious collisions in London. They have heard of the impact on my family and they have set about to make vital changes. I am proud to be working with TfL because I can see their commitment to making London safer and I believe the Incident Support Line will give a voice of kindness, offering the practical and emotional support people need when they are at their most vulnerable.”

One response to “London’s Mayor launches world-leading bus safety programme”

  1. Dave Holladay says:

    This is indeed a welcome move although I do feel that the leap to fit devices, described in Point 1 needs to be nuanced by the hopefully objective and impartial investigations that Point 5 highlights. The represents a significant overhaul of the legal duty placed on TfL and the London Boroughs under Section 39 (RTA 1988) and I would hope that TfL can draw on the model of the Rail Air and Marine Accident Investigation Branches, and deliver this as a genuinely independent operation, which will fill the role sought by the Parliamentary Committee on Transport Safety’s (PACTS) report last March. Only by having an open review of the causal factors in serious and fatal crashes can we ensure that the effective use of the eyes and ears of bus drivers and others using the road with them is assisted by appropriate technology, AND that the design and management of the road space they operate in has, wherever possible the hazard of collision eliminated or the risk of that collision managed to reduce the harm than may result.

    The potential – with an independent investigation unit to include, by stages HGV, and then all commercially operated vehicles (vans, taxis, private hire – pedicabs even) in methodical review of crashes, is, thanks to the GLA’s happy position of having appropriate devolved powers, to regulate bus services, both by contracts for London Buses, and through the London Bus Permit scheme and the existing HGV licensing system, gaining potentially the way that London can deliver the regime for road safety to match that which Lord Cullen drove forward for Rail Safety, and the drastic reduction in casualties that delivered in under 10 years.

    Point 4 naturally sits with Point 5, and even from the limited detail that TfL’s initial work has provided I see some key areas to address from the clustered incidents. There appears for example to be a major spike in crashes between buses and 2 wheelers (bike and motorbike) in October when the daily commute times switch to being in the dark, with virtually no collisions in the summer months – perhaps a call for a seasonal campaign to get bus drivers and 2 wheeled road users aware of this seasonal risk. There are clusters linked to places where a large number of buses are using many bus stops on a busy street – to all intents a bus station – yet a bus stations will feature a reduced speed limit – typically 10mph, and robust measures to manage the places where pedestrian traffic crosses the path of bus traffic (not 30mph with pedestrians darting out around buses to cross the street at the most convenient point.

    One enhancement I would like to see developed, the ability to secure the CCTV recordings that TfL requires to be collected on every bus on a London Buses contract with the minimum of delay, when an incident is reported. Perhaps a protocol for the request passed via TfL Customer Services, or from the Metropolitan/City Police, or DVSA (on behalf or the Traffic Commissioner). hat valuable material – often for incidents not involving the bus, but on the road in the immediate vicinity, can play a part in making London safer overall – not just for bus operations.

    Finally – perhaps to test what we might expect from a crash investigation, identifying causal factors and way in which a design or operating detail might have prevented or caused less serious injuries in a crash, I’d be keen to see what TfL might consider appropriate as the delivery to a recommendation made nearly 8 years ago by RAIB following the fatal crash between a bus and tram in Croydon, recommending that “DfT and Bus Operators” review and take action on the design of double decker buses (the passenger on the bus who died was ejected through the upper deck window when the bus was abruptly stopped by the final impact. (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/411433/090107_B012009_Croydon_v2.pdf (Para 21))

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