As we mentioned previously in Universal Integration – Simplicity in Operation, the connected devices of an ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) work together to increase safety and efficiency by simplifying the roles of maintenance, directors, and operators. The benefit to passengers, however, goes far beyond these “bottom line” conversations and enters the realms of public safety, accessibility, and basic human needs. While all passengers benefit from good communication and a well-maintained fleet, those with disabilities require additional services and hardware in order to navigate the transportation system. By connecting multiple devices to a central Mobile Data Terminal (MDT), these additional services are relatively easy to provide, and will help to increase passenger comfort, safety, and ultimately ridership.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 specifies a number of required devices for each transit vehicle operating medium-to-large fixed routes—so many that bus operators have a hard time maintaining all the systems and announcements that are required. Many transit agencies are discovering the benefits of integrated software solutions and ITS to help manage these services. All connected devices, including LED Destination signs, interior passenger information displays, stop requested signs/chimes and voice announcements will operate from one central MDT to incorporate GPS and automate displayed messages and announcements.

The ADA requires a Public Address System / Passenger Information System for “vehicles in excess of 22 feet in length, used in multiple-stop, fixed-route service.”This passenger information system “shall be equipped with a public address system permitting the driver, or recorded or digitized human speech messages, to announce stops and provide other passenger information within the vehicle.” With integrated automated voice announcements, location or time based information can be easily delivered to on-board passengers or those waiting at stops. Pedestrian safety alerts, such as “bus approaching” can be enabled at busy intersections or crosswalks. While intended to offer services to the vision-impaired, voice announcements increase communication with all riders and can be used to build public relations or branding/advertisement campaigns, as well.

The ADA also specifies that “where passengers may board or alight at multiple stops at their option, vehicles in excess of 22 feet in length shall provide controls adjacent to the securement location for requesting stops and which alerts the driver that a mobility aid user wishes to disembark. Such a system shall provide auditory and visual indications that the request has been made.” By integrating Stop Request signs with the public address system, the simple chime now becomes a full Next Stop Announcement platform. Visual indicators, such as interior information signs, can display not only that a stop was requested, but specifically which stop or intersection it is approaching, assisting hearing impaired passengers in route planning and accuracy. Chime systems and other audible indicators will not only announce that a stop is approaching, but specify which stop/intersection, or other safety announcements such as “watch your step” or “exit rear”. A simple stop request system is now a public relations tool, suitable for localized marketing/advertisement, and customizable to ensure that your organization’s most impactful messages are always being heard and/or seen.

To complete the integrated onboard communication package, fleets should also incorporate their exterior destination signs. The ADA stipulates that “where destination or route information is displayed on the exterior of a vehicle, each vehicle shall have illuminated signs on the front and boarding side of the vehicle.” By using LED Destination signs, such as the LED Destinator™ by Transign™, the front and side readings can be programmed to each display different messages. Most commonly, these signs display the approaching stop, and are manually controlled by the vehicle operator; however, by combining destination signs with public address systems, automated voice announcements, next stop announcements, and interior displays, there is no limit to the amount or type of information that can be delivered—and all with the safety and reliability of an automated GPS-based system.

The Transign LED EnCompass™ system is designed to provide a fully automated fleet management solution by offering LED Destination Signs (for front, side, or rear), route boxes, emergency button systems, interior LED and LCD displays, next stop announcements and stop requests, and automated interior and exterior voice announcements as one customizable package. The Transign LED EnCompass™ will not only satisfy your ADA compliance, but will provide a platform on which to build a personalized and customized experience for your riders. If your agency is already using a GPS-based ITS software, Transign™ can offer integration-ready LED signs and other hardware solutions that will communicate with third-party MDTs via J1708/J1587 or RS232/RS485.

While ADA compliance is the minimum standard, we all strive for safer, more efficient transit systems. Back-up cameras, emergency buttons and communication tools, pedestrian safety alerts, and even inclement weather announcements are just a few of the services that connected passengers have come to expect from modern-day transit providers and operators. Since the ADA of 1990, technology has improved such that no passenger, regardless of ability, should struggle with understanding transit systems or feel unsafe while traveling. Transign remains dedicated to providing cutting-edge solutions to increase utilization of our transit systems, and to ensuring the safest and most efficient experience for passengers and operators alike.