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Improving Public Transportation for Riders with Disabilities through Smart City Services.

Photo of Yariv  Glazer

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LookingBus is a Smart City service that aims to improve the accessibility of public transportation for people with disabilities, including people with visual impairments. People with visual impairments heavily depend on public transit as an essential service for engaging in daily life and social activities. However, they often face challenges with (1) determining which bus to board, especially at busy bus stops when multiple buses approach, and (2) boarding the correct bus in a timely fashion before the bus leaves the stop. By utilizing Smart City technology, LookingBus provides drivers with advanced notifications of riders with disabilities at their upcoming stops to ensure that drivers can assist the riders as they board the correct bus. LookingBus' proprietary technology not only improves safety and reliability, but also customer experience, specifically for those who rely on fixed-route services.

LookingBus is currently implementing a pilot system in Lansing, MI collaborating with the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) through funding provided by the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge. LookingBus is eager to continue growing by implementing our system in the Grand Rapids area. As part of the Smart City vision, LookingBus will enhance connectivity of public transportation systems through greater communication between riders and drivers by means of smart sensors.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

LookingBus is a Smart City service used by public transportation riders with disabilities - including those with visual impairments - to give a renewed sense of freedom to said individuals: a subdivision of riders that is traditionally limited to advance-reservation transportation services. LookingBus aims to improve the accessibility, safety, and reliability of public transportation services for people with disabilities. Practically, the system takes an extra step to engage the driver of the desired bus, even before the bus arrives to the stop, by notifying the drivers that there are users waiting at their next stop. LookingBus answers the call of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires cities to tend to the transportation needs of people with disabilities. By improving the accessibility of the fixed-route buses to riders with disabilities, LookingBus provides the public transportation agencies with a cost-effective alternative to Paratransit services.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

LookingBus is an Ann Arbor-based company that develops Smart City technology to improve transportation services for people with disabilities. LookingBus has a world class team of engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs. The team also boasts a strong base of advisory board composed of experts in public transportation, mobility, and technology. The team is eager to further extend the LookingBus service and is confident in its ability to quickly and affordably scale our Smart City innovation.

Size of your team or organization

  • 11-50

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

The LookingBus system provides an alerting system for bus drivers. The user, or caregiver, can reserve the trip in the user app. Once the rider arrives at the smart bus stop, the system automatically alerts the driver of the upcoming rider. Through implementation of smart bus stops, as well as user and driver applications, LookingBus enables people with visual impairments to use public transportation reliably and safely with minimal required user operation. LookingBus proposes to conduct a 12-month pilot test of the system with public transportation systems in the Grand Rapids area. The proposed project will develop and test the feasibility of a system to improve public transportation services for ADA riders. The team will install the system in a pilot area along the corridor between the Grand Rapids International airport and the downtown. Implementing a functional prototype of the LookingBus Smart City service will stimulate growth and development on a large-scale.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Evidence-based success of the LookingBus pilot will be measured by the ability of the system to enhance the quality of services provided by the city of Grand Rapids. For example, a decline in complaints or reduction in wait times by riders with visual impairments can display data-driven improvements of The Rapid, a Grand Rapids public transportation authority. The success of LookingBus will also be measured in its ability to improve perceptions of the quality of transportation services provided by The Rapid. The team will conduct a focus-group with The Rapid bus drivers and key stakeholders in both The Rapid and the city of Grand Rapids to gauge perceptions of the solution. Perceptions of interest include the potential of LookingBus to improve the quality of service that The Rapid and its operators can provide.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Laura Muresan

Question: Can this system provide some way to be sure visually impaired riders can find the bus stop? I was talking to a friend today who said once she was with a group of friends, all blind or with significant visual impairments, and they once waited two hours for a bus to come, just to find out that where they were waiting wasn't a bus stop. Maybe there could be some way that, wherever a visually impaired rider waits that's on the bus line, the bus will know to stop for them, even if it's not at an actual stop. This would eliminate the problem of the rider actually having to find the correct stop.

Photo of Yariv  Glazer

Thanks again for another great question. Yes, the system guides the user within the range of 1-3 fit from the bus stop sign.

Photo of Yariv  Glazer

Using our system, the bus driver get the alert even if the riders wait nearby the bus stop, not necessarily next to right bus sign, this is one of the main issues that we are address. Today, when the rider is not standing at the exact location, the bus goes by and the the rider is getting forgotten, with the LookingBus system the responsibility is shared between the rider and the driver where the driver is prompted to look for the rider. Great point, thanks for asking:)

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