[Nfbc-info] bus stop announcements

Brian Buhrow buhrow at nfbcal.org
Mon Apr 18 19:56:00 UTC 2016

	hello Lisa.  The ADA requires that major bus stops be announced on
fixed transit lines, as well as stops on light rail and metro lines, i.e.
BART and the subways in Los Angeles.  Compliance on this provision of the
law has been sketchy at best since it became law in 1991, just over 25
years ago.  Technological solutions were suggested, i.e. automated stop
calling, but have been rejected by some transit agencies, including BART,
because they violated the terms of the operator's unions.  Other agencies
have adopted automated systems which announce almost all stops, i.e. here
in Santa Cruz, which work fine until the drivers become annoyed with the
voice prompts in their buses and they begin keying the microphones to make
an announcement over the automated announcements, thereby effectively
disabling them.  Still others, like transit systems in Los Angeles, seem to
have automated systems on some lines, but still have not yet fully deployed
those systems on all  lines.  To make matters worse, the law only requires
the announcement of "major stops", which may not include the one a blind
traveler needs.

	At this point in time, I don't know of a simple answer to this
problem.  Ideally, we'd have a representative on each of the transit
agency advisory committees up and down the state, advocating for the
installation of automated announcements produced by professional recording
artists.  Because I don't think that's realistic, we could start by getting
to the transit agencies our members use, either by investigating joining
the advisory committees of those agencies, or by writing a letter to
officials of those agencies.  In Santa Cruz, we have a strong advocate who
happens to be blind who sits on our agency's advisory committee.  In
addition, I've found that a well placed e-mail or phone call sent to key
officials in the city have been quite effective at getting certain issues

	It is at this point, however, that I think one needs to take one's
matters into one's own hands.   When I learned bus travel, the ADA wasn't a
thing yet and stop announcements weren't even thought of.  So, my
technique was to ask the driver to alert me when I reached a given stop
when I boarded a bus, and to sit near the driver during the ride.  If the
ride was a lengthy one, I'd occasionally query the driver to ask if we were
there yet.  This wasn't full-proof, of course, but it worked most of the
time.  Today, if I'm learning a new route and I'm not feeling like I have a
good grasp of where I am, I can pull out my phone, which has a GPS in it,
and use Google Maps or Blind Square and find out fairly precisely where I
am and how much farther I have to go.  When I think I'm close to where I
need to be, I can then interact with the driver to make sure I get off at
the right place.  I've used this technique on BART when I can't hear the
stop announcements or when I just forget where I am.  There's no driver on
BART that's nearby, of course, but there's usually a fellow passenger who
can confirm what I've already found out.

	In short, I'm in favor of getting the transit agencies to comply with
the law and make stop announcements in a clear and professional manner.
However, I also believe that we need to take responsibility for ourselves
as blind travelers and ensure we get to where we need to be when we need to
be there  using any number of alternative techniques.  Our disability is no
one else's responsibility and we should remember that we have the most skin
in the game when it coms to making sure we get to where we need to go in a
timely manner.

On Apr 17,  6:14pm, Lisa Irving via Nfbc-info wrote:
} Subject: [Nfbc-info] bus stop announcements
} Hello, 
} Perhaps some of you have had an experience, or multiple experiences, where
} you have requested that the bus driver call out a particular stop and either
} the announcement wasn't discernable or the transit operator forgot. If you
} live in a major city them maybe some or all of the bus stop announcements
} are automated. In San Diego we have a combination of some automated
} announcements; ADA stops, and some stops called out by bus drivers when
} requested. Maybe you count stops. This works if the bus stops at all of the
} stops. Maybe you ask a passenger. This works if that person shares a common
} language with you. Maybe, most of the time, it's no big deal if you're let
} off at the stop before or after your stop. However, all of these variables
} can be problematic at one time or another. 
} When 27 years of group advocacy; letter writing; participating in public
} meetings and meeting with administration hasn't resolved the issue then
} what's left? I wrote a resolution which was passed by the California
} affiliate, however, it appears as though it has not been acted upon. I
} really don't know what else to do. I'd appreciate your thoughts. I'd also
} appreciate it if we as an affiliate could address this issue that likely
} occurs up and down the state. Your thoughts??? 
} From,
} Lisa Irving  
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>-- End of excerpt from Lisa Irving via Nfbc-info

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