Responding to the new normal in the transit industry

As various industries do their part to support social distancing measures, the “new normal” way of operating has posed challenges, and driven innovation. The transit industry is no exception, and as transit operators have continued to play a key role in supporting essential services and providing transport for those who need it, they have also been searching for solutions that support safe, distanced travel.

With communities beginning to reopen and transit ridership expected to increase, these solutions will become even more important. In addition to regulatory requirements, transit authorities will have to address rider insecurities in order to regain confidence in public transportation moving forward. One way to do this is to reduce the use of high frequency touch points on buses by removing interactions between passengers and operators.

To that end, many agencies have adopted short-term policies that prevent passengers from entering the vehicle through the front door, while also blocking off the front section of the bus. While this minimizes contact between drivers and passengers, these policies prevent ADA passengers from sitting in the front of the bus, where most ADA areas are located. And, while this system may work during temporary free-ride plans, in the long-term, passengers will need to swipe their fare cards or use the fare box near the drivers’ compartment.

To make these interactions safer, Fleet Maintenance Specialists (FMS), in partnership with Urban Solar, designed and have in production an Operators Personal Protection Guard (OPPG), called DryVGard. Designed to be easy to install and simple to adjust, the DryVGard shield (Patent Pending) is strong, durable, and flexible enough to retrofit any vehicle that incorporates a vertical rear driver’s modesty panel.

“We as an industry must pull together and work on innovations that will increase passengers’ confidence and loads per trip, while also keeping within the social distancing guidelines,” said Brent Sumrall, chief executive officer at FMS.

DryVGard was designed after discussions with many transit agencies struggling to address drivers protection on cutaway vehicles, according to Frank Dopp, chief technology officer of FMS. While DryVGard was initially designed specifically for the cutaway market, requests from several agencies to modify the design to allow a similar quick retrofit for heavy duty transit buses led FMS to expand the product’s applications. Designs for those models are now underway.

To bring these designs to production, FMS is working with Urban Solar, whose Oregon-based manufacturing roots and industry-leading experience in bus stop and zone safety solutions made for a logical partnership.

The resulting product combines high-quality materials, including scratch-resistant polycarbonate and nylon-bonded, single-piece hinges, with a purposeful design that can be adjusted based on the vehicle or driver needs. With quick turnaround from order to implementation, and an installation process that works with existing OEM bus hardware, DryVGard is a timely and effective solution that can help transit agencies increase operations without sacrificing the distancing required to protect drivers and passengers.

“Our experience as the industry leader in security lighting for transit has taught us that people take transit when they feel safe,” said Jeff Peters, president of Urban Solar. “People have well-founded trust in their local transit agencies. Our engineers and partners are currently working on developing additional safety solutions that will help agencies ensure that public transit plays a leading role in our nation’s recovery.”

To play that role, transit industry professionals need cost-effective and easily adopted solutions to help them continue to operate as safely as possible. In these unprecedented times, reliability, safety, confidence and speedy implementation are the keys to getting transit back on track. Designed and built to meet those needs, DryVGard can help these agencies answer a fundamental challenge as transit riders and operators adjust to a new normal.

For more information about DryVGard contact FMS at 951-471-8488 or info@fleetms.org.

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