TECHNOLOGY that gives bus drivers an audible alert if they are heading towards a low bridge is being rolled across the 8000-strong fleet of Stagecoach, the UK’s biggest operator.

The GreenRoad system uses GPS vehicle location data and mapping to alert a driver to nearby low bridges and, if it determines the bus is heading towards one, an in-cab alert will sound to allow a safe exit route avoiding the crossing.

Following a 16-week software development phase, the technology enhancements will be installed on Stagecoach buses across Scotland, Wales and England by summer in a £4 million initiative.

It will enhance a range of existing safety measures, including the design of bus routes to avoid low bridges, detailed classroom and practical route training for drivers, and ongoing work with authorities to ensure the placement of appropriate signage and other alerts.

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The GreenRoad system uses a simple LED system similar to traffic lights on the dashboard, giving drivers instant feedback and encourages smoother, safer, more fuel-efficient driving that is more comfortable for passengers. Stagecoach has been in talks with GreenRoad on extending the technology to further improve safety for its fleet – including 3800 double-decker buses – around low bridges.

Network Rail data shows there were 1714 railway bridge strikes across the UK in 2019-20, with up to 50 a year related to buses.

Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “Buses are already one of the safest forms of travel. But every year we invest millions of pounds in training our professional driving team and new technology to make our public transport operations even safer. Our country’s infrastructure includes many railway bridges designed in an era before modern transport vehicles went on the road, creating a safety risk. 

“We have been working for many months with GreenRoad to design this important low bridge alert enhancement to their proven safety technology, and are now implementing it to bolster the extensive measures we already have in place.”

Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy, said bridge strikes are an “unnecessary burden”, and added: “They pose serious safety risks, cause hours of delays for rail passengers and road users and swallow up public funds which should be used on upgrading and improving our network.”