; Scottish Disability Equality Forum
January 18, 2006
Trials of a pioneering new system providing spoken information at bus stops about bus arrival times have gone live this month in Scotland. The three-month pilot will allow vision-impaired bus passengers to use Braille buttons to listen to information from the Intelligent Bus Information System (or I.B.I.S.). Information about I.B.I.S. can be accessed at.
The units have been installed at 12 bus stops across the Strathclyde region, having received funding from the Scottish Executive.
Bus times are updated from the headquarters of Strathclyde Passenger Transport, the organisation behind the scheme, and sent to units using wireless technology- - General Packet Radio Service (G.P.R.S.) -- and mobile phone technology from U.K. transport information provider Tandata. It is thought to be the first time that G.P.R.S. technology has been used in this way. However, although audio information can be accessed on the next five buses due at each stop, complete bus timetables are only available on-screen for sighted passengers.
Strathclyde Passenger Transport (S.T.P.) information and support officer Lindsay Mathie told E-Access Bulletin there was plenty of scope to develop the new system. "This is a base system and lots can be added. It's not the end product, we want people's feedback. We see the costs and the units getting smaller," she said.
In future, Mathie said S.T.P. may install hardware in the units that would allow passengers carrying a receptive fob that, on connection with a unit, would provide audible directions to I.B.I.S. bus stops.
In tandem with the project, directions to each of the bus stops from Key locations have been published on the location description service Describe Online at
A similar scheme using special handheld devices to trigger spoken bus information is already being used at 70 bus stops in Bristol. Bus stops are fitted with a device allowing vision impaired travellers to hear the time, bus stop names, route numbers, destinations and arrival times for eight bus routes across the UK city. Users point an electronic key fob at the passenger information display at stops to activate audio information. See 'Tickets Please', E-Access Bulletin issue 67, July 2005, at