Pierce Transit has received a $1.6 million federal grant that will allow it to equip its fleet of buses with vision sensors and other technology to help its drivers avoid collisions.
The Federal Transit Administration announced the award last week as part of its Collision Avoidance and Mitigation Safety Research and Demonstration Project.
Data collected by Pierce Transit on the efficacy of the new equipment will be used to determine whether the technology should be used nationwide, by transit agencies and school districts.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., helped secure the grant for Pierce Transit.
“The agency has demonstrated a strong commitment to saving lives and reducing injuries on the road, and this investment will support continued collaboration on their groundbreaking technology and developing new tools for accident prevention,” Murray said.
Pierce Transit will use the money to expand a yearlong pilot project that’s seen it outfit seven buses with the Mobileye Collision Avoidance System.
The system includes sensors mounted on the front and sides of the bus that act like bionic eyes, scanning for pedestrians and bicyclists who might wander into a driver’s blind spot.
If the system detects a risk, it alerts the driver with a series of lights and sounds.
Rob Huyck, Pierce Transit’s risk manager, told The News Tribune for a story last year that there were no collisions involving the seven buses equipped with Mobileye during the pilot project.
The new federal money, combined with about $500,000 from Pierce Transit’s coffers and $100,000 each from the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool and Munich Reinsurance America, will enable the agency to outfit its 176 buses with collision-avoidance warning systems.
In addition, 30 agency buses will be equipped with emergency braking technology.
Pierce Transit hopes to have the new equipment installed by the end of the year.
“Not only is this an important step forward in safely serving Pierce Transit’s customers and the public at large, it may also contribute to safer communities across the nation,” said Kent Keel, chairman of the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners.