The National Academies


Accessible Public Bus and Rail Passenger Information for Riders with Vision Disabilities

Posted Date: 6/9/2022

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(includes 3 weeks for panel review of the interim report, 3 weeks for panel review of the draft final report, and 3 weeks for contractor revision of the draft final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 10/1/2022 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
   Phone: 202-334-2361
   Email: mgarciacolberg@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 8/2/2022
Fiscal Year: 2022


Successful use of public bus and rail requires access to accurate, timely information at every step—from the public way to the stop/station/transit center to the vehicle to the destination stop/station/transit center and back to the public way. A successful trip can involve planning the trip, finding and navigating the bus stop/station/transit center, negotiating the fare payment system, finding and using a fare gate, getting information (and updates on changes) about when and where the bus or train will arrive, boarding the correct conveyance, getting off at the correct location, exiting the station/transit center, and knowing the correct action in case of a service disruption.

Passenger information is any information provided to passengers about where and when transit service is operating and how to access the service. It is typically conveyed in a variety of ways, including permanent signs, static maps, digital interactive maps, in-car digital displays, audio announcements, over-the-phone trip planning, and website and app-based tools, many of which rely on visual cues that are unavailable or difficult to use for people with vision disabilities. People with vision disabilities typically cannot drive, so many of them depend on public transit to travel for work, school, shopping, and medical services; to visit family and friends; and for recreation in order to live productive, healthy, and independent lives. This research should enhance the ability of the transit system to provide equally effective communication of passenger information for all purposes (e.g., planning the trip, boarding the correct conveyance, getting off at the correct location, service disruption information, etc.).


The objective of this research is to produce a guide for transit operators that will help passengers with vision disabilities independently and efficiently navigate the transit systems. 

The research should consider:

  • The challenges encountered by passengers with vision disabilities with varying visual acuity and demographics.
  • The phases of the journey of a passenger with vision disabilities.
  • The current practice for providing information to passengers with vision disabilities.
  • Examples from international transit systems.
  • Transit agencies' practices for collecting and qualifying data on their passengers with vision disabilities.
  • Transit agencies' practices for measuring the effectiveness of the information systems for passengers with vision disabilities.
  • Best practices (frameworks and/or paradigms), lessons learned, and recommendations.
  • Technology that is currently applied or could be applied in the future.

The end product of this research will be a guide for making passenger information accessible to and usable by passengers with vision disabilities, including information provided on websites, audible and tactile information provided in stations, and information available via smartphone apps (including GPS). The guide will include information for route planning and traveling all the route segments between the public way and the transit vehicle. The research will also produce a measurement or audit tool to help agencies quantify and understand accessibility of traveler information for their systems, and to determine priorities in improving accessibility for passengers with vision disabilities. Some examples may include checklists and an interactive matrix organizing strategies by resources and cost. A sustainability plan for the ongoing use of the specific tools should be included.


The TCRP is seeking proposals on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to present a research plan that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.

The research plan shall be divided into tasks that present, in detail, the work proposed. The research plan shall describe appropriate deliverables that must include the following (which also represent key project milestones):

  • An Amplified Research Plan that responds to comments provided by the project panel at the contractor selection meeting.
  • An interim report (i.e., a technical memorandum or report) and panel meeting that occurs after the expenditure of no more than 40 percent of the project budget.
  • A draft final comprehensive research-based guide and interactive products.
  • A final comprehensive research-based guide and interactive products.
  • A technical memorandum, titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note L).

The research plan may include additional deliverables as well as additional panel meetings via teleconference. The research plan shall have a schedule for the project that includes 3 weeks for panel review of the interim report, 3 weeks for panel review of the draft final report, and 3 weeks for contractor revision of the draft final report.


A. Proposals should demonstrate knowledge relevant to this project and experience with passenger information, and/or issues related to accessibility of passengers with vision disabilities.

B. The research will address bus and rail systems only.

C. The research will address the barriers faced by people with vision disabilities. The results may be relevant to people who also have hearing impairments but the research will not directly address accessibility for people with these conditions.  

D. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board's Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2022. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow.


E. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.


F. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations.


G. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at this link. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest.


H. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.


I. Proposals are evaluated by the TCRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue.


Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.


J. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academy of Sciences. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academy of Sciences. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.


K. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.


L. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.


M. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then this section should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.


N. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8½″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8½″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Instruction for Proposers.



Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/ywQJtgQIxYOIYb3VtCUW
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 8/2/2022.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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