Metro Magazine: Travel Software to Aid Disabled Riders

I posted on this earlier, but thought I would note the recent Metro Magazine article on a Travel Assistant Device (TAD), a research project conducted at the University of South Florida’s National Center for Transit Research.

travel-assistant-deviceThis travel assistance system for sight-impaired or cognitively disabled passengers allows them to plan a transit trip and download information to a GPS-enabled mobile phone with the travel assistant software installed. The phone then gives audio and vibrating alerts when it is time for the passenger to pull the stop cord and alight from the bus.

Data for up-to-date schedule and stop information is imported from the Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS).

Here’s a summary and final report.  There is also  a PowerPoint presentation that gives a good overview of the project.  One slide, titled “Challenge: Updating Route Information” on why they decided to use GTFS as the source format for data caught my eye.  Here were its four bullets:

  • Google Transit provides free trip planning tool to agencies
  • Agency has incentive to post schedule updates to a webpage so Google can update their system
  • TAD system can grab the same updates and use them!
  • This feature also allows adding new agencies to TAD with the click of a button!

A similar offering that can be ordered today is one of the Sendero GPS products.  These are talking/braille GPS units that can import transit point-of-interest (POI) libraries to help travelers who are sight-impaired find transit stops.  The transit POI library is generated from agency GTFS feeds.

It seems like every day now, we see a new benefit of open transit data.