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.