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Automatic Voice Annunciation System for Stop Announcements

Vehicle location technologies are becoming more enhanced in terms of their use and performance. In public transit contexts, these technologies are increasingly being utilized for applications other than location monitoring and schedule tracking. Automatic voice announcements are among those applications in which AVL (automatic vehicle location) technologies are being integrated, and Transign is one of the best providers of automatic programmable voice announcement system integrations and solutions for different kinds of transit systems.

A voice announcement system is critical for compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), which requires passenger systems to provide a safe and inclusive means of transportation for all—especially for people with disabilities.

As public transit usage increases, leveraging technological advances should be part of a transit provider’s on-going strategy. This is important especially in this day and age of heavy reliance on electronic and digital integration.

The advancing transit industry is now requiring automated voice announcements on their vehicles along with complete integration and implementation of more robust passenger information systems. More recent technologies arm these passenger information systems with even greater processing power and substantial memory storage, which renders them capable of so much more than simple voice announcements.

Investments in automated vehicle location technologies are being increasingly utilized, not only for monitoring vehicle locations and schedule information, but also for providing passengers critical information that they require while in transit, including voice announcements regarding stops and transfers, public service and safety information, points of interest, and even promotions. All of these open up a great channel for revenue, especially with the increasing number of public transit users today.

Integrated voice announcement systems allow transit providers and authorities to initiate location-specific and relevant announcements for public transit users and passengers. These systems help authorities and providers relay critical information about their journey, ranging from current stops and locations to approaching stops or transfers, as well as alerts and warnings on potential delays in the transit schedule. On-board voice announcements are extremely useful in many public transportation applications, especially when it comes to mass transit.

Automatic programmable voice announcement systems come in many forms and sizes, including systems that can be fully integrated with vehicle location systems (GPS) for better fleet control and monitoring. As a matter of fact, one of the best uses and applications for AVL systems is integration of automatic voice announcement systems that allow transit operators a way to easily dispatch internal and external announcements while fleets are in transit—and right at each stop where these announcements matter the most. These systems are also critical investments to ensure compliance with ADA requirements, which help make sure that passengers with disabilities are properly and considerately served by public transit providers.

Passenger information systems that include visual displays as well as audio announcements are critical in aiding passengers with disabilities and public transportation users in general in making their public transport journeys safer and more convenient. These advanced technologies are helping the transit industry move forward toward better and more inclusive customer service.
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Automatic Bus Location Announcement System – What You Need to Know

Automatic bus location announcement systems are a type of automatic vehicle location technology, now being widely used and applied in the transit industry as a means to track and monitor vehicles and fleets as they work the field. They are used in conjunction with other advanced technologies that all work together to create smarter passenger and transit systems. Automatic vehicle location systems along with automated passenger counters, transit displays, and passenger information systems are only some of the most widely used technologies that make up advanced transit information, communication, and data collection systems nowadays—and you can count on Transign to provide all these technologies and more.

One of the major uses for automatic bus location systems, besides monitoring vehicle locations, is initiating location-relevant voice announcements for passengers. With an integrated voice announcement system, an automated bus location system enables the relay of location-specific and relevant information such as announcements for current and/or next stops, alerts on approaching stops, or warnings on anticipated delays due to the current state of traffic.

An automatic vehicle location system typically consists of two parts, including an on-board GPS system that tracks the vehicle’s real-time location, and a software program displaying that particular vehicle’s location on a map. Like most GPS-powered systems, AVLs (automatic vehicle location systems) are usually accurate up to 30 feet of the vehicle’s location, a range that is adequate enough for monitoring transit routes and deploying on-board voice announcements, among many other applications. A modern voice announcement system can be extremely useful in different kinds of public transit applications, from buses to trains, trams, subway systems, and other such mass transit fleets.

Ideal for transit supervision, automatic vehicle location systems have effectively changed the way that transit agencies manage their operations. Before these kinds of technologies, transit operators had limited control and visibility over their fleets and unless their drivers alert them about incidents, they have no way of knowing when troubles and disruptions are occurring. Automatic vehicle location systems enable transit operators better means of monitoring fleets, therefore enabling them to respond better to situations.

 Just the same, one of the best applications for automatic vehicle location systems is the integration of automatic announcement systems, which enable operators to dispatch both internal and external announcements during transit and at every stop—something that the ADA requires so that passengers with disabilities can better be served by public transport. Audio announcements and visual displays are crucial for aiding passengers with disabilities in making use of the public transport system more safely and efficiently. 

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The Importance of Safety and Security in Public Transportation Systems

Public transportation can pose high safety and security risks because of the massive reach and public nature of their service. Not only do transit companies have to ensure the safety of multiple passengers in a single vehicle—they also have to ensure the wellbeing of the travelers using their facilities, ranging from bus stops to transit stations and wait stops. This is why public information systems, voice announcements, and bus signs play such huge roles in keeping the public safe. Today, modern transit planning platforms are changing the way that the public transportation system works, as well as the level of safety that transportation agencies and operators can provide passengers.

For instance, bus signs can now be integrated with a smarter system that allows transit operators to display relevant information on both interior and exterior signs based on the vehicle’s location and other related factors. The only thing that drivers will have to worry about is attending to their on-board passengers and paying attention to the road and designated stops. These kinds of modern systems are beneficial in improving services as well as enhancing communication, all while increasing safety for passengers. This can likewise increase ridership, which will ultimately result in maximum revenue for the company.

Additional technologies that enable voice announcements and even more advanced visual communications are also ideal as they help make fresh information and updates more readily available for passengers. For instance, public announcement systems can be used to broadcast general warnings and safety precautions to passengers, whether on-board transportation or inside a transit station. These devices can be used to alert people about security concerns that may arise at any moment during their transit. Having these kinds of devices makes it easier to disseminate information and keep passengers alerted to any possible threats to their safety, while providing them with useful reminders when using public transit. On-board screens are also useful tools for displaying safety warnings and precautions, helping to keep passengers safe and informing them of standard procedures in case of an emergency.  

Transign is an authority when it comes to modern passenger information systems, ranging from simple bus signs to more advanced passenger and transit industry solutions that enable voice announcements, emergency alerts, status alerts and delay warnings, safe zones, and on-board communications through audio and visual messaging.

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Onboard Communication: More than Just ADA Compliance

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.

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