Five technologies Transport for London is testing to change bus travel by improving safety

Lynsey Barber
Follow Lynsey
Commuters Struggle Into Work As Underground Staff Continue To Strike
wanrning lights and sounds coudl appear on buses to improve safety (Source: Getty)

Transport for London is testing out new technologies on the capital's public transport that could bring sound warnings to buses, like those found on reversing trucks, to improve safety.

As part of plans by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to end bus deaths by 2030 and injuries by 2041, TfL has been exploring new ways to reduce danger with the help of technology.

Now, it will start testing five innovations with the Transport Research Laboratory, an independent company which is also behind the driverless shuttles being tested in Greenwich.

Read more: Meet the six startups working with TfL to make London a smart city

Audio signals and lights to alert pedestrians to buses are just one feature being trialled. Automated breaking, better designs for the front of buses to reduce the impact of collisions and to driver mirrors are also being tested.

And those moments of losing your footing when the bus is stopping and starting in traffic jams might, or banging yourself on a pole, might come to an end: it is also working on whether things like higher-grip flooring and softening sharp corners and other interior changes could have an impact on safety.

Read more: The most hipster bus ever? TfL gives Citymapper ok for East London route

The results of the tests will feed into a new bus safety standard for operators from teh end of 2018. Previous trials have resulted in the introduction of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA).

From later this year bus operators will have to install the technology which will limit speeds, for example to 20mph in zones which have been introduced in many routes across the city. The tests revealed the technology was between 97 and 99 per cent effective in keeping the buses within speed limits.

"Anything that improves safety for passengers and other road users is a welcome step forward and we look forward to hearing the results once this work has been carried out,” said Tim Bellenger, director of policy and investigations at the think-tank Travelwatch.

Five trials to improve London buses
Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems that allow the vehicle to detect its surroundings and automatically apply the brakes
Features to alert pedestrians and other road users of the presence of buses, such as lights or audible warnings
A re-design of the front of buses, which could reduce the impact of a collision
Changes to bus interiors to improve passenger safety, such as higher-grip flooring and softening sharp corners
Improvements to vision for drivers, including improved mirror design

Related articles