Sat, Dec 18, 2010 - Page 2 News List

FEATURE: Taipei’s transportation system bridges barriers

EXTRA WHEELS:Taipei residents, including those with physical challenges, no longer endure endless waiting or major doubts when taking a city bus

By Lee Hsin-yin  /  CNA, with staff writer

Lu Hung-wen, who is visually challenged, said his world has been made better by the GIS-assisted audible system on city buses.

“Back when there was no automatic announcement saying where the bus was as it moved, I had to count off each stop silently to figure out when to get off,” Lu said.

To alert visually impaired travelers waiting at a stop that their bus is arriving, 193 buses have been equipped with speaker systems broadcasting drivers’ announcements that they’re pulling in.

Similar smart devices have also been extended to regular crosswalks in the city, with signaling systems emitting sounds that tell the visually impaired whether it is safe to cross the street or not.

The magic of ATIS, according to Liu, is that people with disabilities are now able to determine and control their journey.

“Everyone can check the whereabouts of our buses online, anywhere at anytime,” the engineer said. “Taking a bus no longer means endless waiting, major doubts or trying one’s luck.”

The Web site is www.-taipeibus.taipei.gov.tw, which can be more easily accessed by entering “5284” when using Internet search engines. The number sounds like “I love bus” in Chinese.

Huang said that Taipei City residents have risen to the challenge, and he said the transportation network’s continuing emphasis on accessibility has connected him to others in a way that has brought down some of the social barriers thath he and other people with disabilities have faced.

“I’ve gotten to know people whom I never would have had the chance to know otherwise, and I believe it’s the same for them,” Huang said.

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