Dept. of Transportation
Metro Transit Division

King Street Center
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
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Appendix E: Smart Bus Accessibility Review

Washington state
transportation
Center

This memo presents a summary of findings from the Smart Bus accessibility issues review. Members of Sound Transits Citizens Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Deaf-Blind Workgroup participated in the review November 20, 2001.

Questionnaire Results

Most of the individuals participating in the accessibility review (and all those who completed questionnaires) had full or partial mobility, hearing and/or sight impairments. Following a familiarization ride through downtown, eight participants completed a questionnaire regarding their reactions to the features and performance of the Smart Bus customer information technologies. The questionnaire responses highlighted all of the aspects of the Smart Bus discussed during the familiarization ride. Many of the concerns raised by the participants were related to features of the bus itself such as flooring, stop request strips, and overhead racks. The results reported here relate only to the Smart Bus customer information features, specifically the following:

  • Interior next stop display
  • Interior next stop announcement
  • Exterior route and destination announcement
  • Exterior destination signs

The questionnaire responses are detailed in two charts attached to this memo. The first chart reports the ratings for each feature and the second lists clarifying comments made by the respondents. Pictures of the interior and exterior signs are also attached.

Interior Next Stop Display

Participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 (1=poor, 3=fair, 5=good) the size, contrast, clarity, and location of the interior next stop display. Of these, the color of the lettering and the location of the sign raised the most concern. Several participants indicated that the red LED (light emitting diode) letters were very hard to read and could potentially cause epileptic seizures in some individuals. Bright yellow lights on a dark blue or black background or blue-green dot matrix signs were suggested as preferred alternatives. One respondent noted that the overhead light in the bus interfered with the visibility of the sign. Comments received from another CAAC member who was unable to participate in this review session indicated that glare from an open roof hatch made the sign very difficult to read.

The interior sign on the demonstration bus (a 40-foot Gillig) was located directly above the front window. Several participants reported that the sign was difficult to see from the left side wheel chair securement area and from the seating directly behind the driver.

The pace with which the messages on the sign changed was a concern to several participants who indicated that it was difficult to read because it changed too fast. Other suggestions to improve the usability of the signs included making the lettering bolder, bigger and less "dotty."

When asked about the visibility of the interior sign from the forward seating area, responses ranged from poor to good. Most of the participants sat in the front section of the bus but those who responded to questions about visibility in other areas of the bus generally indicated that it was poor.

Interior Next Stop Announcement

Most respondents rated the interior next stop announcements as "good" and comments included "very good" and "excellent." The only suggestion related to the interior announcements was to announce street names whenever the bus makes a turn during service outside of the downtown area.

Exterior Route and Destination Announcement

Unfortunately, some of the review participants were not able to experience the exterior announcement feature due to the logistics of loading the bus. However, for those who were in a position to hear the announcement, it became clear that the location of the exterior speaker was inappropriate for this Smart Bus feature. While intended to identify the bus to waiting passengers, the speaker on the 40-foot Gillig buses is located between the front and back doors, not at the front door where it would be useful for sight impaired passengers. Participants also noted that the announcement was not loud enough.

Exterior Destination Signs

As part of the Smart Bus demonstration, new destination signs were installed on the front and side of the bus. Again, loading logistics made it impossible for most participants to determine the visibility of the sign as the bus approached. However, most of those who saw the sign rated it "good" and one participant even noted that it was "the best I have seen!" Comments included concerns about visibility in sunlight and a note that it was difficult to read the first time but might get easier with time.

Table 1: Smart Bus Accessibility Review Questionnaire Feature Ratings

Respondent

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

External Announcements

Clarity of announcement

1

5

 

1

 

 

 

1

Volume

1

5

 

1

 

 

 

1

Ability to hear over ambient noise

1

4

 

1

 

 

 

1

Internal Announcements

Clarity of announcement

5

5

5

5

 

 

 

3

Volume

5

5

5

5

 

 

 

3

Ability to hear over ambient noise

5

5

4

5

 

 

 

3

Exterior Destination Signs

Size of display

 

 

 

 

4

5

5

4

Contrast of lettering to background

 

 

 

 

3

5

5

4

Clarity of type

 

 

 

 

1

5

5

4

Clarity of display on approaching bus

 

 

 

 

 

4

4

Interior Next Stop Displays

Size of display

 

3

 

2

1

5

3

4

Contrast of lettering to background

 

 

2

1

5

4

4

Clarity of type

 

3

 

3

1

5

4

4

Able to see from the forward seating area

 

2

 

3

3

5

1

Able to see from the middle seating area

 

3/4

 

 

 

1

 

Able to see from the rear seating area

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

General

These features improve the accessibility of transit services for me

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y/N

Y/N

N

Rating scale: 1=Poor, 3=Fair, 5=Good

 

Table 2: Smart Bus Accessibility Review Questionnaire Comments

Respondent

Subject

Comments (related to Smart Bus)

A

External speaker location and volume

Speaker outside the bus is difficult to hear because of ambient noise, place speakers outside of doors instead of in the middle

A

Interior sign color

Bright red or green lights can cause epileptic seizures

A

Interior sign location

Beware of headroom if you move the sign at the front of the bus (interior) back a little

B

+ Interior announcement content

Voice announced ADA stops, requested stops very good.

B

Interior sign color

Red interior sign needs to be blue green, dot matrix style. Red signage hard to read.

B

Interior sign location

Electronic interior sign -- move behind driver to permit easy viewing from all handicap seating and better viewing angle from middle seats.

B

Interior sign pace, content

Pace of announcements brisk. Too much information possible - eliminate time announcement.

C

+ Interior announcement content

Interior announcements were excellent.

C

External speaker location and volume

External announcement speaker not working. I look forward to hearing it when it is available.

D

External speaker location and volume

External speakers need to be by the doors and louder.

D

Interior announcement frequency

Suggest making announcement of streets whenever bus turns when operating outside Metro area.

D

Interior sign color

Internal board should be bright yellow on dark blue or black background.

E

+ Interior sign content

Display sign worked because it repeated frequently. If I miss it, keep watching, will catch it.

E

Exterior sign clarity

Exterior sign clarity of type -- too many dots

E

Exterior sign color

Exterior sign contrast -- blue dots might be better, hard first time, may improve when used to it

E

Interior sign clarity

Interior sign clarity -- too "dotty"

E

Interior sign color

Interior sign contrast -- red is too dark, prefer green or blue

E

Interior sign size

Interior sign should be taller and wider

E

Interior sign visibility

Overhead light interfered with ability to see interior display

F

Exterior sign visibility

Exterior sign -- not sure about contrast in sun, today was overcast, I would like to assess the contrast under sunny conditions and see if it is still bright enough

F

Interior sign font

Interior display -- suggest more bold type, similar to outside

F

Interior sign location

Display in front of bus -- I like the forward location directly over the window. I tend to sit in first seat. If sign were moved back nearer to seats, it would be difficult for me to see it so close overhead.

F

Interior sign size, font

Size of interior display - understand that I need to sit in front of bus to make use of the type

G

+ Exterior sign visibility

Exterior destination signs -- The best I have seen!

G

Interior sign location

Not able to see interior sign -- only if I stand close

H

Interior sign location

Internal signage difficult to read from left wheelchair securement area.

H

Interior sign pace

Internal announcement board changes a little too fast

Updated: Sept. 2002