Published on June 28, 2022 at 2:11 p.m.
Sun Tran passengers using mobility devices, such as scooters or wheelchairs, can travel on many of the system’s buses without having to be secured in place with a cumbersome process.
Now all it will take – in 40% of the fleet – is for the driver to press a button and fasten a seatbelt, with their device secured in place by the automatic arms of the Quantum Automatic Securement system.
Without the technology, drivers must struggle to secure mobility devices safely. Drivers must leave their seat and pull up a bench seat while the driver gets into place. The driver must then secure the driver’s wheelchair or scooter with locked belts in the floor of the bus, then return to their own seat to resume driving.
When the passenger is ready to get off the bus, the driver should stand up, walk towards the passenger, unbuckle the seat belt and lower the seat.
“This technology promotes the independence of our passengers equipped with mobility devices who can now control their safety,” said Jeff Rock, deputy general manager of Sun Tran. “It also benefits other passengers as it shortens boarding times at bus stops, allowing all passengers to get where they need to go quickly and efficiently.”
The technology upgrade was triggered by a 2021 grant from the Federal Transit Administration. Sun Tran used part of the $600,000 grant to pay for 41 of the devices. The grant also financed a fare analysis study and the implementation of contactless solutions on board buses.
Sun Tran is now using these Quantum automatic securing systems on 79 buses, and they will come standard on new vehicles. The rest of the fleet still uses traditional straps to secure passengers in need of assistance.
“We initially viewed Quantum devices as a way to enable social distancing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rock said. “Now we’re discovering additional benefits, and the survey may uncover even more ways this technology makes life easier for members of our community.”
Riders using the technology are encouraged to provide feedback on their experience to help Sun Tran gauge the usefulness of this upgrade. Researchers at the University of Arizona created an online survey that runners can follow until the end of September.
The survey is offered in English and Spanish and can be accessed with a QR code with a direct link to the survey available on board the buses.
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