INIT's new ASSISTIVEtravel app aids impaired riders at all stages of their bus trip. iStock/Rich Legg

INIT Innovations in Transportation Inc., provider of ITS solutions for public transit, launched an app offering personalized ride-hailing assistance and journey guidance for riders with visual, hearing, and mobility impairments. The ASSISTIVEtravel app aids impaired riders at all stages of their bus trip.
 
Before arriving at the bus stop, the rider launches the app to view a list and map of all the bus stops closest to them. The rider is also able to see closest stops with exact distances through the virtual reality function. The map, as well as the augmented reality features, can be automatically disabled for those with visual impairments allowing them to have a simplified layout of the app for easier text-to-speech navigation.

When the rider selects their stop, a view of all bus departures for that stop is displayed. The rider can then select the desired bus and trigger the travel companion request which sends a notification to the driver indicating the level of assistance the rider requires.
 
The driver receives the rider’s request via his on-board mobile data terminal one stop before the user is to board. In addition, other information like the rider’s ability level is displayed. The driver has the option to notify a wheelchair rider about the availability of wheelchair space on-board the bus, and subsequently, prepare to assist them.  

At the bus stop, the app boarding request triggers an on-demand external audio announcement of the service number for the visually impaired. For hearing impaired riders, the system transmits the internal announcements directly to a rider’s t-loop enabled hearing aids. This is very helpful for riders that use the T-loop feature, a magnetic, wireless signal available in most modern hearing devices. Once the rider is on-board, an internal audio announcement will always be broadcasted when approaching the next bus stop so they can prepare to alight. Throughout their journey, users receive trip status notifications from the app.  
 
One of the key elements of the ASSISTIVEtravel app is that it is a stand-alone system. It communicates with the agency’s CAD/AVL System using an open interface. This enables an easy and transparent integration to any CAD/AVL system.  
 
ASSISTIVEtravel was awarded by UITP with the Asia-Pacific Special Recognition Award and the UITP Innovation Award for the Mobility Assistance for the Visually Impaired and Selected Users project, a partnership between INIT and Land Transport Authority of Singapore where the app has been implemented with astounding results.   
 

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