TRANSIT: Rhode Island rolls out 'talking' buses aimed at safety

April 13, 2017

RIPTA is applying an audible warning system to its fixed-route fleet to improve safety for buses, motorists and pedestrians

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is rolling out a fleet of “talking” buses to serve the state’s communities.

The new technology allows the buses to alert pedestrians and motorists with an automated announcement through a “Safe Turn Alert” system that voices messages such as “Caution! The bus is turning.” In addition, orange lights on the side of the bus flash during the announcement, providing a visual alert for the hearing impaired.

The buses automatically issue the alert whenever the driver turns the wheel. The implementation of this technology came as a result of officials at the transit agency wanting to make their fleet safer, especially since drivers and pedestrians are increasingly distracted.

RIPTA spent roughly $400,000 on the program, which was tested last spring and summer on a handful of buses. Last fall, the agency’s board voted to implement the technology on its entire fixed-route fleet, which includes about 210 buses. About 90% of the buses have the technology already, and the rest will have it installed in the coming weeks.

The “Safe Turn Alert” system is provided by Protran Technology, a New Jersey company, which has served other agencies such as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

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