Earlier this year, my research team at the University of Washington launched StopInfo, a prototype system linked from the OneBusAway iOS application that provides detailed information about bus stops, primarily to help visually-impaired riders to locate them. This information comes from a combination of King County Metro’s internal information about bus stops and information entered directly from transit riders using the OneBusAway application, typically while waiting at the stop. At the outset of the project, we hoped that this community-entered information would supplement and verify what Metro had already provided us, so that we could include additional types of information such as how well-lit a stop is at night and the bus sign’s position relative to the curb, while making sure information is kept accurate and up-to-date.
Since initially launching StopInfo in late February, we have collected over 1,300 submissions for 845 unique stops in King County. We have also studied the use of the system with six visually-impaired transit riders over a five week period, and found that StopInfo is generally helpful for blind and low vision riders and can promote more spontaneous travel as well as trips to less familiar places. Additionally, all six of our participants said that they wanted to keep using the system even after the study ended. Full details on this study can be found in this paper, which will be published and presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing annual conference in October.
We are now in the midst of evaluating the system more fully, and are considering the underlying values associated with the use of the system for a full range of stakeholder groups, including transit officials at King County Metro, visually impaired transit riders, bus drivers, and transit riders who might potentially contribute information. So if you are a Metro driver, a person who is blind or low vision, or are interested in potentially contributing information or have contributed information before, please contact us at email@example.com if you would be willing to answer a few questions for our study. If you are a OneBusAway user interested in contributing, you can also take a quick online survey, which offers a chance at winning a $50 Amazon gift card in a drawing.
Image: (left) Where to access StopInfo within the OneBusAway iOS Application. (right) StopInfo’s information screen.
We encourage transit riders in the King County area to submit information about bus stops as they wait for the bus by using the OneBusAway application to access StopInfo. We are currently working with Metro on ways to reward our top contributors to the application. Currently the system is available within the iOS version of OneBusAway as an info button next to the stop name (see above) and on the Web. However, we are working to incorporate it into other OneBusAway applications, and hope to provide this information via SMS as well. Stay tuned!
For more information, or if you have questions or comments, you can read this article on StopInfo, contact us at the e-mail address provided above, or reply to this post. Thank you!