Friday, April 16, 2010

Creative ways to call out stops

Calling out the stops along OC Transpo bus routes has been a hot topic in Ottawa recently, made hotter by the $12,500 fine the city was assessed for failing to do so, as directed by the Canadian Transportation Authority (CTA). The city has voted to have automated stop-calling technology installed on its fleet, but that process will take some time; in the meantime, operators are expected to call out the stops themselves.

With 60-foot buses and sometimes dozens of riders to worry about, calling out stops isn't always at the front of operators' minds, but one driver in particular has found an ingenious way to get stops called automatically--apparently, there's an app for that.

A Centretown News reporter riding the 9 Hurdman noticed a robotic female voice calling out stops. When asked for a demonstration, the male driver pressed a button on his iPhone. The mechanical voice said “Vanier and Coventry.”
What a simple, effective solution to a problem that the city's spent almost two and a half years trying to solve--the CTA handed down their decision in November 2007, informing the City of Ottawa that not having 100% of stops called out posed an undue obstacle to the visually impaired, and that they would have to ensure that stops were called out. In the last few months, council finally decided on a $12M bus retrofit program to have stop-calling technology, among other upgrades installed on the fleet.

Having an iPhone call out stops may not have been a long-term solution for the issue at hand. But at least it was a solution.

UPDATE: JCL commented on this post offering some videos of another clever device one operator used to have stops called out on his or her bus: an mp3 player with the station names loaded in. Below is a video with a few stops being called out.


5 comments:

JCL said...

There's a couple of operators that have their own MP3 players hooked up onto the PA that calls out the stops.

I've recorded the following videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAUPY3qZ4NU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InyJjxan-dY

Note: both video samples are actually the same operator.

Anonymous said...

I had one driver on the 176 route call out not just the stops but also add in a tour guide style commentary of nearby businesses and attractions. He had a good sense of humor and the passengers seemed to get a kick out of it.

WJM said...

I had one driver on the 176 route call out not just the stops but also add in a tour guide style commentary of nearby businesses and attractions. He had a good sense of humor and the passengers seemed to get a kick out of it.

I wish they wouldn't. The audio on the PA's is bad. Being "cute" with the announcements makes it harder to catch the stop names in context.

Similarly, I wish the drivers who do call stops would NOT use the cross-street formula for Transitway "stations" on city streets. The stop should be "Kent", like the map says, not "Albert and Kent".

Clarity and predictability are vital.

Michael said...

Currently at OC Transpo, their is ONE bus that has the CleverDevices Auto Announcements. The bus number is 5032.

Here is a YouTube link to a video of bus 5032 with the Announcements being tested. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCAw-68Bci8

Anonymous said...

"The stop should be "Kent", like the map says, not "Albert and Kent"."

Picky picky picky! I think the extra street name is good information. Bank Street station after all is almost closer to O'Connor than it is to Bank.