RNZFB Community Education Adviser Chris Orr (sitting) and Auckland Transport Rail Services Leader Gareth Willis (standing) on a test run of the audio announcements.
A new audio information system Auckland Transport is introducing on trains next week is expected to make a big difference for blind and vision impaired people.
The automated announcements are part of on-going improvements to the quality of public transport information. They are also part of Auckland Transport's efforts to make public transport accessible to a wider range of people.
They will let people know what station they are arriving at, what service they are on, including special event trains, and where to change for other services. They will add to the visual electronic information signs, which are also being improved.
The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) is welcoming the on-board announcements, which will be trialed on a limited number of trains before they are introduced on all services.
Auckland Transport is asking for feedback from passengers on the announcements.
Auckland Transport and train operator Veolia Transdev have been working closely with the RNZFB and other accessibility groups in developing the train announcements. For example the jingle before the announcements and the voice used was tested with the deaf community to ensure they are at tones that can be heard by people with limited hearing.
RNZFB Community Education Adviser Chris Orr, a regular train user, says the announcements will make a big difference.
“It’s been a pleasure to assist Auckland Transport in getting these train announcements up and running. They will be incredibly helpful to the many blind and partially sighted people who travel on the rail network every day.
“It’s also a real milestone for Auckland Transport and I feel privileged to be among the first to hear it.”
Auckland Transport Public Transport Operations Manager Mark Lambert says announcing the next station is a simple thing that will improve the quality of public transport information for passengers.
“Better information is one of the things that makes public transport more attractive and easier to use.
“The announcements will be of benefit to people who are blind or vision impaired, but will also make it easier for everyone using trains, such as people who aren’t regular users and those who are busy reading.
“They tie into on-going efforts to making public transport information more accessible to a wide range of people. People with access challenges can range from someone who is completely blind or deaf to those who have impacted abilities due to age.”
Other recent accessibility improvements to public transport information, include new Braille signage at 1,200 central Auckland bus stops and making the Maxx.co.nz journey planner accessible to people using screen readers.
Product Customization: Extra Functionality For Pathplayer System for Type 'G' Wellington Metro Train.
As part of a fleet upgrade project for Wellington Type 'G' metro trains Pathplayer system was selected for the pilot trainset. Pathplayer system fullfilled our client's on-board passenger information requirements. As an extra feature our client desired to utilize on-board Pathplayer system to alert on-board staff by using audio visual pre-set messaging manually triggered by the driver. The purpose of this extra routine was to advise on-board staff to contact the driver.
Type 'G' trains consists of two cars where driver can drive from either end of the car. But there is only one Pathplayer controller per train which obviously not accessible to driver from his cab on both end. The idea was to trigger this special audio visual messaging by pushing a button on the driver dashboard but our client did not wanted to run extra wiring for this feature.
Pathplayer is our fully in-house designed product so we designed a network enabled Input Output (IO) controller compatible with on-board Pathplayer netwrok that senses push button on the driver dashboard. This IO controller was installed in both the driver cabs of Type 'G' train and automatically triggers the pre-set audio visual messaging when driver pushes the spacial button labelled as 'CALL T/M' (i.e. Call Train Manager).
In this case we were able to meet our client's extra requirement by adding custom-designed device (IO Controller) to our system.
Value Added Service: A Retrofit Custom Design Job for Type 'A' Auckland Metro Trains.
The Onboard Passenger Information System in Type 'A' Auckland Trains had ongoing data transmission errors on their LED signs. Upon system analysis we found that these errors were due to a combination of existing weak LED sign communication module and the data cabling setup in these trains. Replacing the existing data cabling was a difficult task and would result in lengthy down-time for our customer, so this was not an option!
A challenge was to improve data transmission reliability utilizing exsiting data wiring and LED displays.
We worked closely with our client carrying out in-depth analyzing of the situation. Then we designed a customized data module in-house to trial on-site as a prototype. Various versions of this module was tested both on-site and in-house until the results ensured 100% data transmission reliability over existing data cabling setup.
Working with our client various new test procedures were developed that assisted in successful install. Based on the extensive testing and analysis a final version of the customized data module was developed. This data module was rolled out for all Type 'A' train LED signs.
As a result of collective team effort the third-party LED signs on Type 'A' trains are performing without any hindrances.