Roll out of new Transpo updates to enhance accessibility

NOW: Roll out of new Transpo updates to enhance accessibility

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Starting next week, Transpo, the South Bend Public Transportation Corporation, will begin the testing of novel technology to make riding the bus more friendly for people of all abilities through the addition of automatic ADA and next stop announcements on buses.

Although all Transpo buses are currently ADA accessible with ramps and lifts to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices, those with hearing impairments sometimes have difficulty knowing when to get off because the drivers themselves make the stop announcements.

Randi Fall, a Transpo passenger who uses a wheelchair, offered insights from her personal experience riding the bus. “Currently, we can get on and off in our wheelchairs. They do help people that are visually impaired. And that’s a group effort when that goes on. If someone’s visually impaired, it takes the riders around them and the driver to help direct them. Same with those that are hearing impaired. They kind of have to get a feel for the body language for the redirection, so it would be nice to have [for] someone that can’t hear very well [to] be maybe a little louder when speaking about what stop and what intersection.”

Transpo is aware of these issues and believes the new ADA enhanced next stop announcements will help those with disabilities, all while easing demands on drivers and other staff, especially with the recent staff shortages.

According to Amy Hill, the general manager and CEO of Transpo, “Right now, as part of being a part of the Public Transportation Agency, our operators, our drivers are responsible for making ADA announcements, which means announcing points of interest or next stops or time points along the routes, so we are introducing new technology that will automatically do that as the bus moves along the route so we no longer have to rely on the operators. They can focus on driving the vehicles, so now our passengers will not only be able to see where the bus is going but they will also hear the next stop coming up as the bus is approaching that location.”

Transpo passenger Randi Fall looks forward to the reassurance offered by these updates. “That’s a great thing. I mean someone that’s hearing impaired will also be able to hear it. We will all be able to hear it and that way the drivers aren’t having to yell back and forth with questions. … As technology moves forward and everything else moves forward, our public transportation system needs to move forward, too.”

The technological improvements do not stop with these new ADA features. Transpo is also working on the roll out of bus tracking and trip planning features. According to Hill, “The second phase of that will be automatic vehicle tracking, so there will be an app that riders can download. They will be able to see exactly where their bus is at any point along the route. There will also be a trip planning feature where they will be able to put in their starting location, their ending location, and it will tell them exactly where to catch the bus.”

ABC57 will continue to update the community on the implementation and progress of the new ADA and trip planning features over the next few weeks.

Share this article: