URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — When you run errands or take your kids to school, you can rely on all different forms of transportation. In Champaign-Urbana, the Mass Transit District (MTD) is a popular way to get around.
Now, the bus drivers will soon be taking advantage of new technology that can help the community stay safe. It’s a new bus simulator.
It’s making sure drivers are prepared for any emergency. They’ll still learn how to drive the 40-foot vehicle in their training lot first, but this device in the safety and training department is a way to make sure they’re always expecting the unexpected in realistic situations.
“There are a lot of moving parts out there in the real world,” Brendan Sennett, the safety and training director, said. “We have pedestrians, bicyclists, students paying attention to their phones and not necessarily their surroundings.”
He said those are the things drivers need to be ready for, and this technology will help make sure they are.
“We can control the weather, we can control vehicles in a sense by populating the map,” Sennett demonstrated.
MTD has used simulators before, but Sennett said there’s one thing in particular that stands out in this one.
“We have the ability to have real-life customers on a monitor at the back of the operator that they can see from their rearview mirror,” he explained.
In one online scenario, Sennett showed WCIA a car pulling out in front of the bus. From there, the real-life customers in the back fell. The driver could see it happening in their mirrors and could select various responses on the computer as if it were real life.
Sennett said it’s a tool reminding drivers of the basics, and keeping the community safe.
“We want to make sure they can rely on safe and reliable transportation,” he said. “Whether that’s getting students to and from class, our local residents to work, to doctor’s appointments, wherever life takes them.”
MTD got the new simulator in September and they’re building it into the curriculum now. They expect to have it set in the training program within the coming weeks.