The buses purchased for 2021 as part of Winnipeg Transit’s Bus Replacement Program came equipped with a promise – better securement for passengers who use wheelchairs and scooters and improved safety for all passengers.
“This is a significant leap forward in enhancing flexible, independent travel and safety,” said Teresa Platt, Manager of Client Services for Winnipeg Transit.
The accessibility enhancement is two-fold: All 32 of the new buses being rolled out this year are equipped with new wheelchair and scooter securement systems, and bus Operators who will be driving these buses have also been trained and are ready to assist passengers with the new securements, as well as while boarding/exiting the bus.
“Training our Operators on the new securement systems is the first step,” said Platt. “The buses in our fleet have a variety of wheelchair securements, and we’re preparing refresher training for all of our Operators who will be able to assist with securement on all vehicles in the fleet in our next phase.”
Platt noted future training will also focus on sensitivity and enhancing disability awareness to help ensure success for Operators and passengers alike.
The first wave of Operator training focused on how to assist with securement using the two new systems, which are called the Quantum and the Q-Pod. They each have unique features and benefits.
The Quantum provides passengers who are able to operate it independently the freedom to do so. Located behind the Operator’s compartment, the Quantum secures wheelchairs or scooters using pressurized, automated arms, which are activated with the push of a button. Operators are also able to activate the Quantum for passengers, who face the rear of the bus while in a secured position.
On the other side of the aisle, the Q’Pod allows passengers to face forward while secured, with their wheelchairs and scooters secured with three J-hooks the Operator will put in place before assisting with a lap belt.
“The Operator training covered how to identify the correct parts of the wheelchair to secure to the Q’Pod,” said Platt. “Safety is a priority for us, and proper use of these securements makes everyone on board the bus safer.”
Passengers using Navigo to plan their trip can see if their bus has the new securements with assistance available by looking for the securement icon. The buses are also marked by a decal located on the outside of the bus and in the securement area.
While the new securements are only available on Transit’s newest buses, all buses in the Winnipeg Transit fleet include securements and other accessibility features.
The entire fleet is low floor, easy access, meaning passengers can request the driver kneel the bus or lower its ramp for boarding or exiting. All buses also have a Next Stop Announcer inside, which provides an audible and visual cue to passengers of the location of the upcoming stop. The majority of buses in the fleet also have external announcements, which shares route information to waiting passengers upon arrival at a stop.