MOVE-ing for safe bus rapid transit operations in Belo Horizonte
As the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, prepares to launch its MOVE bus rapid transit (BRT) system, the city is taking measures to ensure that public safety is a top priority. Representatives of 73 bus companies recently completed the safety module of the Multipliers Capacity Training program, which teaches safe driving practices that bus drivers can implement to provide safe, quality service to BRT passengers. The 115 drivers that attended will in turn be tasked with teaching their peers, which will instill safe driving practices throughout the entire network of 2,260 bus drivers.
The course was promoted by several different organizations: EMBARQ Brazil; BHTrans (Transportation and Traffic Agency of Belo Horizonte); Setra, a local transport operator’s union; and Sintram, a regional transport operator’s union. FedEx Corporation sponsored the training program. The content of the course was developed by EMBARQ Mexico and adapted to Brazil’s specific operational needs. Rogerio Rubim, FedEx Security Specialist and a defensive driving instructor in several Latin American countries, led the session.
Safety First for Brazilian BRT systems
The training program covered six core safety topics: driver behavior, defensive driving, bus infrastructure, BRT information and technology systems, operational procedures, and situational contingencies. Paula Santos Rocha, EMBARQ Brazil’s Transport Projects Coordinator, opened the day by presenting the Safety First guidelines, part of the QualiÔnibus Program, which aims at improving the services, management, and security of bus operator companies around Brazil. Santos Rocha emphasized that “the work currently underway in Belo Horizonte will culminate in a manual to be used in surrounding cities, with the support of EMBARQ Brazil.”
Rubim went on to define the concept of defensive driving as a driving style that saves lives, time, and money. Videos and presentations served as visual aids to help drivers remember to expect the unexpected, maintain awareness of the surrounding environment, and anticipate setbacks. Rubim also outlined twelve strategies for reducing the chance of a collision, which included knowing the dimensions and sight lines of the bus and proper techniques if pedestrians move too close to the road.
Specific, local strategies for improving traffic safety
The second part of the training focused on specific issues related to Brazil’s BRT infrastructure. Here Rubim tackled how to operate the vehicle within the BRT corridors, how to deal with cars attempting to overtake buses, and how to correctly approach a BRT station. There are still likely to be flaws in the BRT fleet’s operations, but MOVE Operations Manager Arthur de Abreu is confident that the system will succeed, noting proudly that “the quality of content, the level of the presentation and the attendees' participation were all very positive.”
This article was originally published in Portuguese on embarqbrasil.org.