'Caution: Bus is turning'

'Caution: Bus is turning'

The month of March will mark a change in how TriMet buses sound. Forty-five buses along five lines will become “talking buses,” outfitted with a warning system to let pedestrians know when they’re turning. Click the "play" button to hear what the warning will sound like.

A rise in “distracted walkers” who are preoccupied with smartphones and other gadgets played a role in the decision to install the new system. It is only a pilot project right now, funded by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

TriMet is working with AEM Corporation and Portland State University to study how well the system works.

The pedestrian warning system includes audio and visual alerts. When the steering wheel turns at least 45 degrees, you’ll hear the system say “pedestrians, bus is turning” and LED strobe lights will flash on the side of the bus. The volume of the alert will also automatically adjust depending on the ambient noise level.

The five bus lines equipped with the system include 4-Division/Fessenden, 8-Jackson Park/NE 15th, 15-Belmont/NW 23rd, 33-McLoughlin and 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard. The program rolls out Monday, March 3.