New technology is being trialed in selected parts of NSW aimed at supporting members of the community who are blind, vision impaired, or have difficulty accessing bus services. 

Transport for NSW Executive Director of Advanced Analytics and Insights Simone Roberts said the Bus Boarding Assist Innovation Challenge run through the Open Data program will explore how data and technology can help to make public transport more accessible for all passengers.

“Catching public transport can be daunting for members of the community who live with vision impairment or reduced mobility, and we want to make their journeys as comfortable and smooth as possible,”

“Some difficulties affecting accessibility include signaling the bus driver, requesting a boarding ramp, and knowing when a destination is approaching so the driver can be notified to stop.”

SAGE Automation and Hailo have been selected to participate in the Bus Boarding Assistant Innovation Challenge and trial smartphone applications (apps) to empower customers with vision impairment or reduced mobility to access bus transport services more independently.

SAGE Automation has partnered with Busways to trial their ‘See Me’ app in Port Macquarie, while Hailo is working with operators in Tweed Heads, Queanbeyan, and on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

The trials are expected to end in June 2024.

Ms Roberts said the apps link to the bus via an onboard system that digitally notifies the driver of the passenger’s needs ahead of time so they can plan accordingly, such as preparing a boarding ramp for people with limited mobility.

“The findings from the trials will help us to understand the effectiveness of using this type of technology in improving the experience for both the passenger and driver, as well as inform future needs for bus technology and systems to support accessibility of our public transport services.”

More information on the Bus Boarding Assistant Innovation Challenge can be found by typing ‘Bus Boarding Assistant Innovation Challenge’ in your search engine or following this link.