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LookingBus

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, specifically the boarding and disembarking, 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. Likewise, the driver will get a similar notification to alert when the rider needs to get off the 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 Pittsburgh 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 pilot in collaboration with Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAAC) in the Pittsburgh area. The LookingBus pilot will take place along route 61, which goes by various stores, medical centers, cultural points of interests, and the corridor between Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh. Implementing a functional accessibility service, such as LookingBus, will demonstrate a Smart City service before standardize such services in the cities of tomorrow.

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 Pittsburgh. For example, a decline in complaints, an increase in pick-up rates, or a reduction in wait times by riders with visual impairments can display data-driven improvements of Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAAC), a Pittsburgh 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 PAAC. The team will conduct a focus-group with PAAC bus drivers and key stakeholders in both the PAAC and the city of Pittsburgh to gauge perceptions of the solution. Perceptions of interest include the potential of LookingBus to improve the quality of service that PAAC and its operators can provide.

6 comments

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Photo of Diana Avart
Team

Hi Yariv,

Congrats on being a Semi-Finalist! Don't forget to continue using the Share buttons found at the end of the post as you make updates during the Refine phase. This will encourage the community to continue to vote and engage with your submission, helping reviewers to get an understanding of which ideas have the greatest public support and also prompting you to consider different aspects of your proposal in new ways.

- Diana, Facilitator

Photo of Carl Blais
Team

First there would be need to be a method to request a specific bus route from the busstop and to communicate the request to the next available scheduled bus for the specific routes to inform the bus of a person with a disability needs a ride at required location to certain place

Photo of Yariv  Glazer
Team

Thanks Carl for your input, that exactly what we are doing. Riders reserve a trip, which they can do a head of time. Using our smart city technology at the bus stops, an alert is sent to the designated bus driver only when the rider is getting close by to the vicinity of the bus stop. The smart bus stops guide the riders to the exact location with high precision, thus reducing travel errors, wasted time, and missed buses. This is especially important for riders with visual impairment that often miss the bus just because they do not wait near the right pole, as they struggle with distinguishing between the bust stop pole and other nearby poles (e.g., stop sign). Thanks!

Photo of Diana Avart
Team

Hi Yariv,

Thanks so much for submitting this idea! I am curious how you decided on the pilot location and am wondering if it is possible to extend it to the entire 61 bus line? I know a lot of people with disabilities utilize the bus to get everywhere - the grocery store, cultural events, doctors appointments, etc. - and most of those things go beyond the small distance between the two Oakland campuses.

- Diana, Facilitator

Photo of Yariv  Glazer
Team

Thanks Diana for the constructive feedback. The intention was to include the entire 61 bus line, I am glad that you asked, we will go a head and clarify it at the application. And yes, the route 61 was chosen because many everyday life activities (groceries stores, offices etc.) are along this line.

Photo of Diana Avart
Team

Wonderful! That seems like a really great choice then as a place to pilot the idea. And your edits make that very clear now.