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Bus Stop Announcement System

Buses that run through a city can benefit everyone.  Not only is the bus system beneficial for those who don’t have car, but also for those who are new to the city, for those who don’t want to deal with parking at a large event, and for those with a disability.  However, all of these people may not know exactly where their stop is.  Someone who is new to the city, or just visiting, won’t always know what the landmarks around their stop are or even what the street names are.  Someone who parked a distance from the event they’re going to may not know exactly where the stop is, and someone with a disability may not need a  trigger to help them orient where they are.

There is a way that all passengers can tell when their stop is coming up soon.  Some buses and train systems announce every stop when approaching and then once they are at the stop.  According to ADA, there are requirements for bus stop announcements.  The ADA says, “on fixed route systems, the entity [bus system] shall announce stops as follows: The entity shall announce at least transfer points with other fixed routes, other major intersections and destination points, and intervals along a route sufficient to permit individuals with visual disabilities to be oriented to their location. Also, the entity shall announce any stop on request of an individual with a disability.”While this is only required if a person with a disability is on the bus, it would help others as well.  Not every person‘s disability is noticeable so there is no way that a bus driver would be able to tell which person on the bus has a disability and which person doesn’t.

While bus drivers want to help their passengers know where they are going, there are a lot of reasons why announcing the stops are troublesome for bus drivers. They could say that it gets too hectic and that they need to focus on the road, they could say that they aren’t trained to do it, or they could say people can already tell where their stop is.  They can also say that the passengers won’t be able to hear what they are saying when the bus is crowded or when they are in a busy section of town.

To help passengers, and allow bus drivers to focus on driving, there are companies that make automated systems.  Clever Devices, a company based out of New York, has a bus stop announcement system that can be installed in buses.  The “Automatic Voice Annunciation (AVA) system automates on-board passenger announcements, which not only keeps your passengers up to date automatically, but also helps create more accessible buses for visually impaired and hearing challenged riders. [There are] automated voice announcements alerting passengers to upcoming stops are [and these announcements are] coordinated with LED signage on board the bus to help all riders travel with more convenience and independence. The system is fully automated so that bus operators are free to concentrate on driving and other tasks requiring their attention.” This system complies with ADA requirements, has volume control, and allows riders to request a stop.  Even if there is someone on the bus that does not have a disability, this system can help them so that they know exactly where they are and when they need to get off.  It is extremely helpful for someone with a disability because it gives them the chance to read and hear where they are and where they will be going next.

Clear Device AVA Key features

  • ADA compliant
  • Automatic voice announcements
  • Automatic stop announcements
  • On-board passenger information
  • Automatic volume control
  • Works with GPS
  • AVA Increases Ridership and Customer Satisfaction

Picture of where the Clever Device system is set up in the bus

This type of system is already integrated into buses and trains in Canada and buses in London.  It is also integrated into the bus system in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Denver, Colorado and the subway system throughout New York.

This system, or any system like this, can make riders’ trip, no matter what their reason for being on the bus, easier.  With the announcement system, the LED sign, and the option to request a stop, every rider has the opportunity to get where they need to be when they need to be there without worrying.

The city of Reno just released electric buses.  While they were developing these buses they could have installed this system to make the ride that much better.  The current buses should install this system in the current buses.  It would make the ride easier for the passengers and less stressful for the driver.

Resources:

Clever Devices website

ADA Requirements

 

 

Industry Player’s

None of the following industry players such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have yet expanded to the Reno/Tahoe area , but have become very popular in the Bay Area such as San Francisco and Los Angeles .  As Uber, Lyft and Sidecar do expand individuals may be concerned with the availability of ramp taxies declining. According to the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority this is already occurring. 1/3 of wheelchair accessible cab’s are sitting in idle due to the lack of drivers. In one article Lyft states,”they are working to engage and educate the handicapped community.” California requires that the TNC’s (translational corporations) submit reports on how they will accommodate disabled users. Larry Paradis executive directory of Disability Rights Advocates in Berkley said ,”the plan’s are all quite tentative and don’t address the fundamental challenge. Which is ensuring enough accessible vehicles to make this transportation system at least minimally accessible for people with disabilities.” Five access plans were designed by InstaCab,Lyft, Sidecar, Wingz & Uber stating that they would ensure drivers don’t discriminate against disabled customers and already have or will make their apps and websites accessible to blind users. The TNC has some issues with allowing drivers to determine weather or not an individual is allowed to bring a service animal into the vehicle and that is creating some issues. The companies also say that they will be updating their apps in order for riders to request a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

Lyft

  • Wheelchair Access: ” Drivers will be able to indicate what ,if any, accessibility needs they can accommodate … We are working to engage and educate the handicapped community in each of our markets.”
  • App/Website Accessibility: ” The app and website already comply in part with the accessibility standards.” Will comply by June 30, 2014
  • Service Animals: Will add and app feature to let users set preferences for “service animal accessible vehicles.”

SideCar

  • Wheelchair Access: meeting with disabled -rights groups to discuss incentives to attract drivers with accessible vehicles.
  • App/Website Accessibility: “App and mobile websites are accessible to blind users.”
  • Service Animals: ” Currently , most sidecar drivers accept service pets.”

Uber

  • Wheelchair Access: ” Will reach out to transportation companies with accessible vehicles about the possibility of partnering.”
  • App/ Website: IOS app has voice over support
  • Service Animals: “No need for a user to indicate ahead of time that he or she is accompanied by a service animal.”

New Technologies in Transportation Causes Concern in Disabled Community

As Uber, Lyft, Sidecar Grow, So Do Concerns of Disabled

Back of a Taxi Van with ADA accessibility sticker as well as "This vehicle authorized to enter bike lanes when necessary" sticker

New means of transportation, such as Uber (a new company that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services), Lyft, and Sidecar, are becoming more popular in large cities.  These new services make accessing transpiration easier for the majority of the population, and is a promising start for those with disabilities if it is executed properly.

The current dilemma is whether or not these new vehicles will be accessible to those with disabilities, especially individuals needing wheelchairs.  Having a wheelchair accessible vehicle generally costs more for the driver in fuel and maintenance, thus turning drivers away from ADA accessible vans.  These new companies were presented with questions on how they were going to make their vehicles and their company more accessible in general.

Some of these new companies talked about partnering with exiting companies that have the required vehicles, while others described giving drivers financial incentives to purchase and drive wheelchair accessible vehicles.  I believe these companies are on the right track, but I think it will be a long time before they become completely successful in helping transport those with disabilities.