Assessing Lifecycle and Human Costs of Bus Operator Workstation Design and Components

The job of bus operator is among the least healthy job classifications, as described by Bushnell, Li, and Landau (2011). Costs to public transportation agencies are high and the human costs are considerable. Employee time loss at public transportation agencies is significantly higher than for the average in the U.S. working population. The bus operator environment is integral to health. Musculoskeletal problems, such as low back pain or wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain, are endemic in public transportation. Newer “active” systems for seating and steering, however, can reduce these problems, as described by Gregersen (2015), and there have been significant changes in the designs of critical systems for bus operator workstations, such as seats, pedals, and steering. The industry has great need for guidance in understanding, evaluating, and implementing options for improving operator health while reducing time loss, injury, disability, and external liability. TCRP Report 25: Bus Operator Workstation Evaluation and Design Guidelines was published in 1997. Its partial update, TCRP Report 185: Bus Operator Workstation Design for Improving Occupational Health and Safety was published in 2016 and revisited the packaging of the driver’s workstation. Additional research is needed on critical systems such as seats, pedals, and steering to inform specifications and procurements. Audiences for this work include transit agencies, the public transportation industry, regulators, and labor; specifically, safety committees, risk and safety managers, chief engineers, and directors of maintenance at transit agencies that oversee specifications for procurements; human resources departments; writers of specifications for contracted services;  APTA committees and programs; manufacturers; and suppliers. The objective of this research is to assess bus operator workstation technologies that improve bus operator health and well-being and reduce external risk. This project will (1) develop and (2) demonstrate a user-friendly toolkit for evaluating equipment within the bus operator workstation. The research will supplement the work of TCRP Report 25 and TCRP Report 185, covering progress in the engineering of seats, steering, pedals, and controls where significant advances have been shown to reduce injuries, reduce costs, and improve safety performance. The toolkit will allow a user to (1) assess bus operator workstation options available and (2) calculate the effects of those options on driver safety and health, the effective work tenure of drivers, crash rates (e.g., visual obstructions such as pillar design and mirror placement), and costs over the lifetime of equipment (i.e., lifecycle costs). Research should consider: (1) Relative health and turnover rate of current bus operator populations (compared with other occupations); (2) Features of the workstation that would most improve health, well-being, and performance, considering the attributes of the bus operator population (e.g., control efforts such as foot-pounds of effort for turning can be tuned to prevent the occurrence of new injuries and minimize aggravation of existing injuries); (3) Evaluation of components in isolation and in the context of the workstation envelope; (4) Performance implications to the safe and efficient operation of the vehicle (e.g., dwell time and customer service implications); (5) Effective international practices; (6) Standards (and other processes for evaluating technologies) that could be framed as models for agencies examining future evolutions of systems; and  (7) Applicability and maturity of information on key standards (e.g., benchmarks for control efforts of workstation hardware) and recommendations for follow-up research to address priority areas. An interim report at the end of Phase I should identify demonstration options for working prototype installations that can be carried out with available project funding and those requiring additional resources. In Phase II, it is anticipated that one or more demonstrations applying the draft


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  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $250000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project G-17

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Parker, Stephan

  • Start Date: 0
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 41373

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01622197
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project G-17
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 7 2017 1:00AM