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Originally created on: Thursday 16 August, 2007
Press release Monday 20 August 2007
And the next bus is....
Bus passengers have become used to the ‘real time’ bus information boards that show the exact time of buses arriving at the bus stop.
Now blind and partially sighted people can take advantage of the same system. By simply carrying a small key fob they will be able to get audible announcements telling them which bus stop they are at and when they press a button they will hear which buses are coming and when they are due to arrive.
The system, currently unique to Brighton and Hove, is being launched at Brighton Town Hall by the Mayor, Councillor Carol Theobald tomorrow, Tuesday, 21 August.
Audible announcements are being installed at 20 bus stops in the city and two in East Sussex.
The council has worked in partnership with RNIB, Siemens VDO, Siemens Traffic Controls, SFX Technologies and Atkins Consultancy to provide the technology and ensure equal access to the bus stop signs for blind and partially sighted people. All parties have worked hard in pulling together innovative technology to present a system that can give orientation information and up to date bus information in audio.
SFX Technologies has enabled the RNIB REACT System to provide a text-to-speech link to the Siemens Passenger Information Displays. The audio announcements are triggered by key fobs carried by the individual. The orientation announcement is given automatically as the individual passes by and if more information is needed the individual can push one of two buttons. The first button starts a message that gives further information about the bus stop location and the second button tells you when the next bus is due.
Seventy people with visual impairment have been nominated to receive a key fob to trial the system with a view to further fobs being issued at the end of the year.
Councillor Brian Pidgeon, deputy chairman of Brighton and Hove’s equalities forum, said: “The idea for the scheme came from my wife, who has a visual impairment, and we are thrilled that it is now up and running.
“It will mean that bus passengers with a visual impairment won’t have to ask their fellow passengers where they are and which bus is coming – they’ll be able to access that information themselves. Measures like this give people more confidence about using public transport – and we’re the first in the country to do it with orientation messages as well as providing real time information.”
RNIB hopes to continue to develop the RNIB React units as part of a national standard so that other councils that install ‘real-time’ information will be able to use the same system throughout the UK. The next phase of the development will enable people to receive ‘real-time’ information through more discreet units, possibly even their own mobile phone.
‘Real time’ bus information works through a satellite system that tracks where the buses are on their route so that passengers get the actual time the bus will arrive at their stop.
View 'real time' bus information from all the 'real time' bus stops in the city at www.citytransport.org.uk
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