New Flyer partners LA Metro on US FTA-funded bus safety research project


The USA subsidiary of New Flyer Industries (NFI), the largest transit bus and coach manufacturer in North America, has been named as an OEM partner on a US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Safety Research and Demonstration (SRD) Program project in California.

The FTA has awarded a US$1.45m SRD Program grant to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to trial technologies that will improve safety across the agency’s transit route network. Metro is aiming to reduce pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle collisions using sensors for driver warning and assistance.

The SRD project team is responsible for evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and practicality of selected collision mitigation solutions, with New Flyer named as a partner to evaluate sensor-based bus collision avoidance systems. The technology assessment includes automated braking systems, as well as other sensors that can assist drivers with pedestrian warning, blind spot caution and collision avoidance.

After researching and developing the technology with private partners including New Flyer, Metro will deploy the collision avoidance system for 18 months in normal operations, during and after which data will be collected and analyzed.

The most technically feasible and commercially viable solutions will be included in a 50-bus evaluation, with the systems installed on New Flyer’s Xcelsior battery-electric and hybrid diesel-electric buses operated by Metro. The SRD project is anticipated for completion in 2020. Metro currently serves as the transportation planner, coordinator, designer, builder, and operator for over 9.6 million people, spanning a 1,433-square mile (3,712 sq km) area. With many of the technologies to be trialled also used in self-driving systems, Metro sees the safety demonstration project as being the first step toward the future use of autonomous buses.

“We are proud to play a key role in this important SRD project,” said Chris Stoddart, senior vice president of engineering and service at New Flyer. “Driver and passenger safety is of utmost importance, and evaluating autonomous driving and collision avoidance technologies in the densest transit environments will validate the potential of new solutions in tough driving conditions. We look forward to integrating innovative SRD solutions into the Xcelsior bus in a manner that benefits the entire transit industry.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).