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Center Identification Number:  77910   

Project Title:  Moving the Bus Safely Back into Traffic, Phase II

Principal Investigator:

Pei-Sung Lin, Ph.D., Director of ITS, Traffic Operations and Safety
Phone: 813-974-4910
E-mail: lin@cutr.usf.edu                  

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Fax: 813-974-5168

External Project Contact:     

Amy Datz
State Transit Environmental Planner
(850) 414-4239
Email: amy.datz@dot.state.fl.us

I.  Start and End Dates

Start Date:  January 2009               Expected End Date: March 2010

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

The difficulty experienced by transit buses in moving back into traffic safely from bus pullout bays has become a serious problem due to potential hazards between buses merging from pullout bays and the surrounding traffic. Previous studies have determined the need to closely examine the engineering side of the Yield to Bus (YTB) program and to develop effective countermeasures to address the issue.

Phase I of this project focused on the comprehensive literature review, field observation, and data collection of three aspects: bus signing and lighting configuration, road signs, and YTB regulations. The Phase I project has determined the best practices of signing and lighting configurations on the rear of buses and roadside signs to assist transit buses to safely re-enter the traffic stream, and identify the needs for further research to evaluate the recommended countermeasures from Phase I.  Specifically, the major recommendations including further research from Phase I for on-bus devices are as follows: (1) conduct a comprehensive data collection for evaluating the latest on-bus YTB Light Emitting Diode (LED) flashing signs on the back of buses, (2) assess safety and operational benefits of on-bus LED flashing yield signs, and (3) develop recommendations and implementation of an effective public awareness program to increase public awareness of YTB laws. 

In 2004 a crash study was conducted to examine all reported bus crashes during the period of 1998 to 2002 on the State Highway System. The results of this report indicated that 47 percent of all bus crashes were rear end collisions. In an attempt to reduce these types of crashes Phase 1 of this research was proposed and accomplished. Phase I of this research project was completed in November, 2007, which presented a comprehensive overview of the existing signage, lighting configurations, and existing YTB laws that were used to help buses merge back into traffic from bus pull-out bays. General engineering recommendations were developed in these three areas based on the statewide bus operators survey, field observations, and preliminary crash data analysis. The specific countermeasures included the implementation of the latest YTB LED flashing signs on the back of buses and advanced road signs and/or beacons. It is necessary to evaluate recommended countermeasures on moving buses safely back into traffic, as well as to assess safety and operational benefits to transit buses and surrounding vehicles by implementing the recommended countermeasures.

II.  Objectives/Tasks

Task 1: Conduct a Comprehensive Data Collection for Evaluating the Latest On-bus Yield-to-Bus LED Flashing Signs

Phase I of this project concluded that the decal currently being used in Florida is not effective in motorist awareness of the YTB law. LED flashing yield signs have recently been implemented at two Florida transit agencies, and some new technologies such as “merging” electronic arrows and others are on the market. The LED flashing yield sign and “merging” electronic arrow sign’s effect on roadway safety and operations remain unclear and will be addressed in this task.

In this task, the Contractor will conduct a comprehensive data collection for evaluating the impact and effectiveness of the latest LED flashing yield signs on the back of transit buses. The data of before and after the deployment of the LED flashing yield signs installed on the back of transit buses will be collected.  The specific subtasks include:

  1. Review of similar before-and-after studies conducted in other states,
  2. Selection of the latest off-the-shelf LED flashing yield signs including “merging” electronic arrows for deployment,
  3. Purchase of the latest out-of-shelve LED flashing yield signs,
  4. Recruitment of two transit agencies in Florida for deployment of LED yield signs,
  5. Before data collection and field observations,
  6. Instruction of YTB law to transit drivers that have participated,
  7. Deployment of LED flashing yield signs,
  8. After data collection and field observations, and
  9. Development of a database to organize collected data for the analysis in Task 2.

The before-and after data should include but not be limited to: (1) conflicts between the transit buses merging into traffic and surrounding vehicles, (2) re-entry delay of transit buses from pullout bays, (3) number of blockage of through lane by transit buses, (4) travel delay caused by blockage of the through lane by transit buses, and (5) number and severity of crashes during at studied locations involving transit buses merging into traffic.

Several latest off-the-shelf flashing yield signs will be purchased and installed on transit buses for evaluation to determine their effectiveness.  A sub-consultant is needed to install and uninstall different LED yield signs on participating transit buses in two selected transit agencies and provide technical support and trouble shooting for any installation problem if occurred. 

Task 2:  Assess Safety and Operational Benefits of On-Bus LED Yield Signs

It is essential for this research to quantify and assess safety and operational benefits of the proposed on-bus LED yield signs in Task 1. The evaluation of on-bus LED yield signs through the benefit and cost analysis will be performed based on the detailed field observation and comprehensive data collection from Task 1. The major benefits to transit buses should include the decrease of conflicts between the buses merging into traffic and surrounding vehicles, and the reduction of re-entry delay from pullout bays due to other vehicles yielding to the buses. From field observations, transit buses often stop on travel lanes to pick passengers to avoid merging back into traffic. Hence, by implementing the proposed on-bus LED yield signs, the benefits of surrounding vehicles include the decrease of conflicts with transit buses, and reduction of travel delay caused by blockage of the through lane by the transit buses. The Contractor will develop a simple mechanism to track the safety and operational effectiveness over time for the proposed on-bus LED yield signs, and will explore the potential funding sources for local agencies to implement the recommendations and findings of this project. 

Based on the analysis results, this Contractor will recommend whether the Yield-to-Bus LED flashing signs should be included in the YTB statutes. The Contractor will also determine whether developing procedures for pulling in and out of bus pull-out bays is also necessary before adding additional lights on the bus. With the addition of new LED yield signs, there would need to be a uniform regulation for which other lights can be used simultaneously and the order in which these lights should be used.

The Contractor must provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate net benefits of the recommendations, and prepare the appropriate forms to attain NHTSA approval prior to any implementation if the proposed recommended on-bus LED yield signs in Phase II differ from the current National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations. 

Task 3: Develop Recommendations for a YTB Public Awareness Campaign

According to a study done for Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 49, over 60 percent of bus operators surveyed in Broward County thought that less than 10 percent of the driving population was aware of the yield-to-bus laws. Currently, the 2007 Florida Driver’s Handbook contains a small section mentioning the law requiring motorists to yield to the buses, but this can be easily overlooked unless it is being tested in driver exams.

In this task, the Contractor will perform comprehensive literature review and interviews with at least two state transit agencies with good experience of YTB Public Awareness Campaign to develop recommendations for conducting an effective YTB public awareness campaign.   Public awareness of the dangers of weaving to avoid being stopped behind a bus and awareness of the existence of YTB law is vital for supporting any new technology employed to improve bus safety and operations. It is also important to identify what group handles this public awareness in other states and the appropriate office or program that would implement this public awareness campaign in Florida. 

Task 4: Produce Final Report

A Draft Final Report will integrate and summarize all research work from Tasks 1-3 of the Phase II project.  The Draft Final Report will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability by the director of the National Center for Transit Research prior to submission to the Department for technical approval.  Upon approval by the FDOT, the Contractor will prepare and submit a Final Report to the FDOT for final approval.  The university will certify and deliver a minimum eight (8) copies of the final report in MS Word on CD and one (1) unbound original.  The Draft Final Report and Final Report must be prepared in accordance with the FDOT Guidelines for Preparing Draft Final and Final Reports.

Work not included in this scope of service is not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Department.

III. Deliverables

The Contractor shall deliver:

  1. Technical memorandums (5 pages or less for each memorandum) for Tasks 1, 2, and 3 written for their appropriate audiences,
  2. PowerPoint presentations based on the Technical Memorandums to be used by the Project Managers as needed, and
  3. Formation of two project advisory groups: (1) Safety and Operations, and (2) Marketing. The role of the advisory groups is to provide comments and suggestions on the appropriate tasks.

Progress Reports

The Contractor shall submit quarterly progress reports to the Research Center according to calendar quarters (Jan-Mar; Apr-Jun; Jul-Sep; Oct-Dec). The first report is due 30 days following execution of the task work order. Reports should be submitted within 30 days of the end of the reporting period. Reports are due even if little or no progress has occurred (in which case, the report should explain delays and/or lack of progress). Progress reports should be sent in MS Word to Sandra Bell, sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us .

Progress reports must include the following information:

  1. Contract Number, Work Order Number and Title,
  2. Work performed during the period being reported,
  3. Work to be performed in the following period,
  4. Anticipated modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope), and
  5. A Progress Schedule (Figures A, B, and C) updated to reflect activities for the period being reported.

To effectively track the project-related emails, the project contract number and title are required in the subject of the email to FDOT Project Managers.

 Failure to submit progress reports in a timely manner may result in termination of the work order.

Draft Final Reports

The draft final report will be submitted to Sandra Bell, sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us. It should be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The Research Center expects the Contractor to be able to provide well-written, high-quality reports that address the objectives defined by the scope of service. Draft final reports must be prepared in accordance with the Guidelines for Preparing Draft Final and Final Reports (http://www.dot.state.fl.us/research%2Dcenter/Program_Information/Guidelines%20for%20Preparing%20a%20Final%20Report%2012-07.pdf). This document provides information on all report requirements, including format requirements, the technical report documentation form, disclaimer language, and so forth. The Contactor is required to send an electronic version and printed version of the draft final report to the Project Managers, is due 90 days prior to the end of task work order to allow the Project Manager sufficient time for review and distribution.  

Final Reports

Once the draft final report has been approved, the university shall prepare the final report. The university will deliver a minimum eight (8) copies of the final report in MS Word on CD and one (1) unbound original, no later than the end date of the task work order, to:

The Florida Department of Transportation

Research Center, MS 30

605 Suwannee Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

Each copy will be provided on a CD or DVD (i.e., for a total of eight disks). If the project manager requires additional copies, such provision must be indicated in the scope. The project manager will review the final report to ensure that all issues identified for correction in the draft final report have been addressed.

Project Certification

The Sponsored Research office or appropriate authority will submit as a final deliverable a project certification prepared according to university compliance standards.

Sign and Seal of Final Research Report

Principal Investigators licensed to perform engineering in the State of Florida and performing research that requires engineering education, training, and experience in the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences to such services or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, and design of engineering works and systems, planning the use of land and water, teaching of the principles and methods of engineering design, engineering surveys, and the inspection of construction in connection with any utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, work systems, projects, and industrial or consumer products or equipment of a mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, or thermal nature, insofar as they involve safeguarding life, health, or property may be required to sign, date and seal the Final Report. This requirement will be known prior to the development of a Scope of Service, and this section of the Scope will be an acknowledgement of that requirement.

For the purpose of this section, one copy of the final report may be electronically transmitted to the Research Center:  signed, dated, and sealed by the licensee electronically in accordance with ss. 668.001 – 668.006 F.S.

IV.  Project Kick-Off Meeting

Project Kickoff Meeting

A kickoff meeting shall be scheduled to occur before any work begins. As a minimum, the project manager and the principal investigator will attend. The Research Center staff must be advised of the meeting and given the option to attend. Other parties may be invited, as appropriate. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan.

V.  Project Schedule

VI.  Project Budget

Salaries and Fringe                                      77,779.18     

Expenses                                                        11,900.00

Travel                                                                     800.00

Sub Total                                                           90,479.17

Indirect Cost (fixed price subtotal x 10%)      9,047.92

Total Project Cost                                          99,527.09

VI. Use of Graduate Student(s) and Other Research Assistants

This Phase II research project will involve intensive field work including detailed field observation, comprehensive data collection, and data management. Mr. Enrigue Gonzalez-Velez, a Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida, will serve as a graduate assistant to aide researchers on field observation, data collection, data management, and YTB agency survey.  Mr. Gonzalez-Velez has several years of research experience on traffic safety and operations as well as field data collection through previous CUTR research projects. The hourly rate including benefits and tuition for Mr. Gonzalez-Velez is $26.07 per hour and he is expected to work 10 to 15 hours per week through the project period.  Ms. Sarah Fagan, a research program assistant, will assist researchers on project administrative work and report preparation. The hourly rate for Ms. Fagan is $12.92 per hour and she is expected to work 4 to 5 hours per week during the project period.

VII. Equipment

No equipment purchase is envisioned for this Phase II project.

Reimbursement will only occur upon receipt of and only for the amount of the purchasing invoice for the subject equipment.

(and)

The university, upon receipt of any purchased equipment, shall forward to the Research Center a copy of the purchase invoice/property description as detailed in Exhibit C – Budget/serial number and receipt.  The Department will prepare and forward inventory control label(s), which the university shall have affixed to the property.

VIII. Supplies

Supplies are required for conducting Task 1 of the Phase II project including the latest off-the-shelf YTB LED flashing signs. Several types of the YTB LED flashing signs will be selected, purchased, and installed in transit buses for evaluation and comparison of their effectiveness. Multiple YTB LED flashing signs of the same type will be purchased and installed in transit buses to increase sample size and field observations.  The anticipated timeframe for the purchase is within the first three months of Task 1. A before-and-after study will be conducted for Task 1. The total estimated cost for LED sign purchase shall not exceed $7,200 and the total estimated installation cost shall not exceed $4,000.

Installation agreements should clearly state the physical condition of participated transit buses before and after the installation.  All flashing yield signs will be collected at the end of the study to ensure there will be no liability issues to the Florida Department of Transportation and CUTR, University of South Florida.  However, the Contractor can determine to leave the flashing yield signs on the participated transit buses, regardless of their benefit, as a condition for getting the transit agencies or bus companies to agree to sign installation, then a document releasing the Florida Department of Transportation, and CUTR, University of South Florida of all liability, now and future, will have to be in-place at the time the agreement is executed. Copies of all agreement should be provided to FDOT Research Center.

VIII. Travel

Travel in conjunction with the Phase II project is limited to in-state travel. The travel includes two major parts. The first is travel to selected locations for needed field observation and data collection for the project. The second part consists of the travel necessary to attend meetings to present the project and seek support for future implementation, i.e., Florida Greenbook Advisory committee meeting, operators and marketers at FDOT/FPTA/CUTR professional development workshop in Tampa (no registration fee), and a Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST) Coalition meeting in Tampa.  The total estimated expense for the travel is $800.

The Florida Department of Transportation will not pay for travel to the Annual TRB Meeting, other conferences, workshops, conventions, etc. except as directly relevant to the purpose of the project and with pre-approval. 

All travel shall be in accordance with Section 112.061, Florida Statutes.  FDOT employees may not travel on research contracts.

 

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