Walt Disney World has long touted its comprehensive bus system in a long list of reasons while staying at a Disney resort is a great value. When you stay “on property” at Disney World, you get free transportation to all the Disney resorts, theme parks and other recreation areas.
But three bus crashes in a two-week span, including one that killed a 9-year-old boy, have critics saying a computer system inside Disney’s buses could be too much of a distraction.
The “Magic in Motion” system routes buses in real-time, rather than scheduling all the routes in advance of a shift. The system requires bus drivers to input a 5-digit code into a computer on the bus before they arrive at their destination. It’s a feat Disney says is easily accomplished while waiting at a stoplight or parking gate.
But some Disney bus drivers and a local union leader told the Orlando Sentinel that the system is distracting and requires drivers to take their eyes off the road.
For its part, Disney says it is developing software to further automate the system so that drivers don’t need to enter anything into the on-board computers.
And that’s great. Disney, and any other travel company for that matter, should be continually innovating to improve safety. But for what it’s worth, authorities say that distracted driving did not contribute to any of the three recent Disney bus crashes.
Anytime there is an accident at Walt Disney World, people panic and seem to overlook the fact that tens of thousands of people ride on these buses every day, at a 40-square mile resort dotted with 4- and 6-lane highways. The bus system is as complex as many cities. In fact, its fleet is larger than the city bus systems in Tampa and Orlando.
There are going to be accidents.
Personally, I’m more worried about a scene I see nearly every time I drive on Walt Disney World property: A family driving a rental car 60 miles per hour in unfamiliar territory, while mom takes pictures out the window and dad talks on his cell phone and messes with the GPS.
That’s distracted driving at its best.