First Bus to revolutionise bus travel for blind and visually impaired passengers on Leeds City Service

Aberdeen, Scotland, 2015-12-2 — /Travel PR News/ — First Bus has today (Nov. 30, 2015) launched a pilot ‘NextStop’ on-bus announcement system which could revolutionise bus travel for blind and visually impaired passengers.

Launched in Leeds in partnership with Rise Digital Media, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), the 8-week pilot will provide audio and visual next stop information for bus passengers.

The NextStop product, provided by Rise Digital Media, is a fully integrated passenger information system that has been fitted to three vehicles on the popular ‘Leedscitybus’ service connecting key locations across the city. The product uses mobile data technology including GPS and Wi-Fi to provide a complete real-time system for on-board next stop announcements with the future potential for promotions and location-based destination marketing.

First Bus is keen to encourage feedback from all customers to help determine the next steps in providing improved information on buses. The pilot will run until 16 January 2016 and a number of organisations are being asked to test the product including VisitLeeds and Guide Dogs.

This latest move follows an 8-week pilot of the BUSFORUS branded App earlier this year which was created and developed specifically for blind and visually impaired bus passengers providing real-time audio and visual alert notifications, direct to their handset.  In the New Year First Bus will use the feedback from both the App pilot and the NextStop on-bus pilot to see how the technology can be used to further enhance journeys for all passengers.

Paul Matthews, Managing Director of First West Yorkshire said: “We are committed to making our services as accessible as possible for all of our passengers. We are therefore very excited about this pilot which we think has the potential to revolutionise bus travel for all passengers as well as the blind and visually impaired community.

“First is delighted to work with our partners in this project and we have high hopes that it will be very successful. We’ll be continuing to work closely with passengers and user groups during the pilot.”

Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) Transport Committee Cllr Eric Firth said:

“I’m pleased to see First piloting this valuable new service which at last month’s West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, we urged bus operators to investigate.

“We know that up-to-date and reliable travel information gives people more confidence in the public transport network and that this kind of ‘next stop’ information on buses is particularly useful for people with impaired sight or hearing so I look forward to seeing the outcome of this pilot.”

Debbie Linford, Guide Dogs Community Engagement Officer for North & West Yorkshire added, “I am delighted that First Bus are introducing this pilot which I hope will be successful and extended to more bus routes. Talking Buses are essential to enable people who are blind or partially-sighted to use buses with confidence, as well as improve the experience of bus travel for all passengers, including elderly people, commuters and tourists.

CPT’s Chief Executive Simon Posner said: “The bus industry continues to develop and trial alternative and more cost effective onboard next stop announcement systems.

“CPT is delighted that First Bus is continuing to build on our work and research in this area from earlier in the year, and we look forward to learning the results of this 8-week pilot.”

“We whole heartedly support initiatives designed to make buses and bus services more accessible and attractive to all.”

Managing Director of Rise Digital Media, Scott James said, “We’ve been working on the NextStop technology for almost 18 months now and were extremely positive about the future of this system and the availability of this technology for all operators, large and small, throughout the UK and beyond.”

SOURCE: FirstGroup plc.