The UITP Awards celebrate the most innovative and ambitious sustainable mobility projects undertaken in the last two years in cities and regions around the world.
The 2019 UITP Awards were handed out during the Global Public Transport Summit in Stockholm. We sat down with each winning team to learn more about their project and to pick their brains about innovation in the sector.
Winner of the Award ‘Diversity and Inclusion’: INIT and LAND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE (Singapore) for "MAVIS (Mobility Assistance for the Visually Impaired and Selected Users)"
Tell us briefly about your project.
Aligned with Singapore’s Land Transport Master Plan 2040, which has a goal to make Public transport more inclusive, LTA, INIT, and SG Enable are conducting a trial with the aim to provide people with special needs enhanced information and communication abilities to better plan and manage their bus journey. Enabling bus journeys that otherwise wouldn’t be possible without help of an accompanying person, the trial focuses on passengers who are either visually impaired, hard-of-hearing or wheelchair users.
We conducted several engagement sessions with the future users to understand the problems they are facing when using public transport and to get feedback on suggested assistive technologies.
Based on this feedback, the trial includes 3 new features: a mobile phone app providing personalised journey guidance which take the requirements of each disability group into account, on-demand external bus announcements for visually impaired users, as well as internal announcements on-board via T-loop for persons with hearing aids. Inside the bus, the driver screen shows the bus driver a pictogram indicating what type of special user is boarding or alighting the bus at the upcoming stop. The system also allows the driver to communicate back to the user.
What are some of this project’s key successes?
We have received very positive feedback on this project, both from its users and from various senior figures. However, one specific successful moment that has stayed with us happened as we were showing the system for the first time to the engagement group. While riding on one of the trial buses, a visually impaired passenger shared her excitement and emotion triggered by the external audio announcements emanating from the bus, which allowed her to easily locate the front door. This was a very rewarding moment for us, as it showed that this technology could truly make a difference in the life of certain passengers.
In what way does this project bring about significant change in the public transport sector?
Public transport enables freedom of movement, but it is often forgotten that this isn’t the case for everyone. As countries work towards more inclusive societies, public transport will also need to become more accessible for those with special needs. At the moment, travelling with public transport might present difficulties for persons with disabilities, such as the visually impaired, wheelchair users or the hard-of-hearing. The mission of this project is to lower or remove these difficulties and enable more people to benefit from public transport.
Public transport enables freedom of movement, but it is often forgotten that this isn’t the case for everyone
How does it benefit public transport users?
Usually, persons with disabilities tend to avoid taking public transport alone due to the different kinds of barriers they face. By lowering or removing some of these barriers, we hope to enable and encourage this group of persons to use public transport more frequently and even without an accompanying person.
What lessons can other organisations and authorities learn from this project?
This project is a great example of what can be achieved when a transport authority partners with the industry to develop and test new solutions. The transport authority is able to provide a real problem statement, and access to facilities and testing opportunities, while the industry is able to provide innovative solutions.
This project was also made possible by a special scheme that Singapore has for trialling new technologies: the “Land Transport Innovation Fund”, whereby the transport authority pays the majority of the trial costs, but the industry partner also part funds. As a result, the two partners share a strong common objective to succeed in the trial.
Stay tuned for more interviews with the remaining winners of the UITP Awards!