The National Academies

TCRP B-50 [Active]

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

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: Texas Transportation Institute (TTI)
Principal Investigator: Michael Walk
Effective Date: 11/9/2022
Completion Date: 12/8/2024
Comments: Research in Progress

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 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”.

Research in Progress.




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