Looking for a bus? A new app will help you catch one

Austin

Capital Metro is testing out new technology to make it easier for the public to find a bus stop and learn when the next bus is coming. The wayfinding technology is through the app called BlindSquare. Cap Metro started testing it for the visually impaired and now they’re hoping everyone in the city will join the pilot program.

Here’s how it works: white, round beacons are attached to bus stop signs throughout the city. When a rider opens the app on their phone, an audible voice tells them the closest bus stop location, where the buses at this stop will take them and when it arrives next.

This information is vital for those who are blind or who have low vision. Martin Kareithi is blind and manages Cap Metro’s Accessible Services. Before having an app to tell him where to go, it meant he had to figure out a route before he left home. 

“You’d have to do some pre-planning to know where the bus stop is located and what intersection you are looking for, and then you essentially walk up and down the block looking until you locate the stop,” Kareithi says.

Kareithi imagines this app will help not just the visually impaired but also older adults and the public in general who might want to take a bus but are unsure of when the bus is coming or where it’s located.

“It gives us a chance to empower folks to use the bus network and to do so with comfort, ease and confidence. If you know where you need to go, it gives you that extra sense of reassurance and helps us support and promote the independence of folks in our community.”

This pilot program is free to Cap Metro and the next phase of the testing period will run until the end of May.

Right now the beacons are located in the downtown area and by the downtown rail stops:  

  • 419 4th/San Antonio
  • 5th/Guadalupe
  • Republic Square Station (SB) (MetroRapid Station)
  • Guadalupe/4th
  • Guadalupe/Cesar Chavez
  • 5th/Lavaca
  • Lavaca/4th
  • Republic Square Station (NB) (MetroRapid Station)
  • Lavaca/3rd
  • 215 Cesar Chavez/Lavaca
  • 5th/Colorado
  • 5th/Congress
  • Congress/ 3rd Street
  • Congress/Cesar Chavez
  • Downtown Station (MetroRail Station)

Once the pilot program is complete it could expand based on feedback from those who try it out.

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