A transit bus passenger in South Korea takes note of a coffee smell wafting through the bus. The subtitle is a translation from an ad playing on the radio.
School buses are known for being big, yellow and safe — not necessarily for smelling like roses.
But could pleasant aromas be used on the yellow bus to enhance the riding experience? I'm going to go out on a limb here, but just bear with me.
This thought came to mind when I heard about an ad campaign in South Korea in which the smell of Dunkin' Donuts coffee was wafted into transit buses. At Dunkin' shops located by bus stops in Seoul, sales reportedly increased 29% during the campaign. (See this video for more on that unusual advertising program.)
In that case, smells apparently had some effect on people's behavior. While we don't want to encourage kids to run to the nearest donut shop, could other types of soothing odors be used on a school bus to keep passengers calm?
We've reported on the positive impacts that various types of equipment can have on student behavior on the bus. For example, some operations have found lap-shoulder belts to decrease disciplinary incidents. Video surveillance systems can deter bad behavior (and document it when it does occur). We've even heard that the quieter engines on some alternative-fuel buses can make for a calmer passenger compartment.
So what about adding an odor dispenser on the bus? Perhaps it could be programmed to pipe in a fragrance when the volume level rises above a certain level or when the driver says a trigger word, like "Quiet!" (In the transit buses in Seoul, the smell was dispensed in response to the sound of the Dunkin' Donuts jingle in radio ads.)
The idea of using odors to manage student behavior is not unfounded. In an SBF article several years ago, it was noted that a Shelby County (Tenn.) Schools student with autism became calm in response to the smell of pickles. The student was given an empty plastic pickle jar and was allowed to carry it in his backpack.
Pickle scent might not work for everyone, but maybe there are some more widely pleasing fragrances that could be used for the general student population.
I acknowledge that the aroma approach to bus behavior seems far-fetched, but just consider it food for thought (or smell).
— Thomas McMahon, executive editor
| posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 11:58 AM