I can tell you that it is fun driving on the shoulder. You sure have to be on the ball.
New technology is being developed at the University of Minnesota to help bus drivers navigate a narrow shoulder. The enhanced transit options planned for the corridor along Cedar Avenue between the Mall of America and Lakeville include some of the more innovative aspects of the project. Among them is the lane-guidance system for buses. This project was a cornerstone element that made Minnesota’s project package attractive to federal funders, according to Craig Lamothe, manager of UPA transit projects for the Council. The guidance system is a safety feature for individual transit operators to navigate the narrow shoulders along Cedar Avenue. The MVTA, working with the University of Minnesota, will equip 10 buses with the technology that will help drivers stay in the center of the shoulders, particularly when the weather affects visibility, such as when it’s dark or raining.
Currently, it is up to each operator to determine whether he or she is comfortable using the shoulder. Lamothe said some passengers have expressed frustration when drivers don’t use the shoulders, and this project will provide an opportunity to enhance the confidence of each operator and show value to commuters who choose to use transit.
Federal officials are watching the project closely.
“This is the first demonstration,” said Lamothe. “We’re anxious to see if it works in this fleet, and the rest of the country.” Lamothe noted that this technology could be especially useful in older cities implementing bus-only shoulders, where lane space is limited and lanes are generally narrower than those in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
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