Tag Archive for audio bus announcements

On the buses …… audio failures

As a girl with a visual impairment, having tech on bus journeys or train journeys are key to my ability to be independent.  If such an option isn’t available then I will set myself up to use another method of knowing my location and when or where I am to get off.

so imagine my surprise and upset when half way through a bus journey yesterday evening, I find that the audio has stopped?

I was travelling to an poorly lit area, I had Fizz with me and as I got on the bus I checked with the driver that audio was on.  And as we set off, the audio read out the next stop, confirming what the driver had told me.  All good, I could feel safe and secure that I could just sit enjoying the ride and await my stop to be read out.

There seemed to be a long pause in the audio.  I checked with another passenger sat near me and he confirmed that the screen (as the audio on buses is teamed with a visual; just like on the train) was reading the next stop, but he hadn’t been paying attention and didn’t know where we were as he was getting off at the last stop, so didn’t need to know.

it was then moments later that the audio returned, only to read out a destination that was much further along the route, a good 45 minute walk back to where I needed to be if I had got off then!

so instead I travelled back to the bus station and started the journey again.

This time, when I got on the bus I asked the driver for my specific stop and asked him to ensure that he stopped there for me, he said the bus had audio, but understood my concern following my previous journey.

The audio on this bus was on, it also continued to detail each and every stop, so I was aware of where I was and when I was due to get off.

I put it down to a glitch and having safely arrived at my destination all be it an hour later, I forgot all about it.

That was until this evening.  This time I was travelling with my son home after a shopping trip.  Again, it was dark but I was more aware of my surroundings as it is a journey I have done thousands of times.

Again, the bus left the station and the audio announced the next stop.  This continued until just before we were due to get off the bus, we were literally around the corner and the audio stopped.  I could work out roughly were we were, and having stopped at several stops to let people in and off of the bus, there were no further announcements.

Thankfully a block of flats lit the way to enable me to work out that we were approaching our stop.  But again, the audio had let me down.

Memtioning it to the driver as we got off the bus he simple said “I don’t pay any attention, I couldn’t tell you it had stopped.”

So, what is a gal to do?

I shall be sending this blog to the bus company, is it just really bad luck that I have encountered this issue?  Is it a relay issue with the bus audio?

I know that my hearing is going, but to hear the audio and then to not hear the audio….., that isn’t me?

I feel that I am not able to trust the audio on my bus journeys anymore, and with the dark early evenings. This is making me feel that going out after dark isn’t an option.  Or do I just walk?

Lots of questions.  But I am totally stuck with whatever I do.

Technology Sees’ Everything

I would say that I am a tech reliant vip. The reason for this is because I don’t go anywhere without my iPhone, iPad and headphones. No I am not an apple geek, but I am reliant on google maps, street view and up to the minute travel planning such as ‘Travel line’, ‘National Rail’ and even local weather, all of which have fabulous little app’s.

When travelling somewhere new, I am meticulous at planning my route, my first port of call is The Travel Line, where all I need to do is put in a start and end point. I can even put the time I either want to leave, or arrive by. It will then come up with a list of travel options for me that include walking, buses, ferries, coaches and trains. This is where I can ‘tweak’ it to my preferences, for example, I can put the maximum time I am happy to walk between other transport. I can even view the route on a map, which is animated to show me through the whole trip, with icons for walking, buses, ferries and trains. Which I can zoom in on the work out.

If I am travelling by train, I can then check up on all the information that I need via the National Rail app. The reason I check this too, is because it will break the information down even further. It will list each of the stops that the train will make, it will also tell me which platform the train departs from and arrives on…. This is particularly handy if I need to change trains at a station, as I can navigate much more by myself without additional assistance. (although if I need it, I will ask for help from the station staff)

I will plan my route from home and then take ‘screen shots’ of the information or even save the travel details to my calendar, just incase I have no internet access via wifi or 3g on my travels.

When planning my route, lines on a map do nothing for me. So I am an avid fan of googles ‘street view’ this enables me to visualise the route from a bus stop, along a walk or even find short cuts, that the route planners may not show.

This is of course only as good as the information that has been recorded, for example if I street view my own house, I see the driveway in its old position, not it’s actually how it is now.

But as the map navigation is continually updated, I (as yet) haven’t become completely stuck because of it.

An example of this was earlier this week, when I had to visit the Southampton offices for Guide Dogs. An office that is a ‘tad’ out of the way for guide dog owners.

So I planned my route at home, based on the time that I needed to arrive, then to allow for delays, followed the details for the slightly earlier journey.

Which in this instant was needed.

Having navigated to the train station and from there to the bus stop needed in southampton, I even asked for assistant from the people at the stop with me, to help with the bus I needed. As a major calling point all of the other buses that came to the stop all pulled in. My bus didn’t and the person who said they would help me, did help, but only to tell me that the bus had driven straight past!

So, out came my phone to check the time of the next bus from the stop I was at…. And it wouldn’t be for another hour. So the Costa next to the stop enabled me to piggyback on wifi (as it is faster than 3g, which I would have used if no wifi was available)

Thankfully, there was another bus that would take me to Chilworth where the office is situated. It was however, 15 minutes walk from where I was, in an area of Southampton that I wasn’t familiar with. So, out came the headphones and on when google maps.

I was able to navigate and instruct Vicky my guide dog without having to look at my phone at all.

I have ‘over ear’ headphones so that I can comfortably listen to information that I need, and have one ear free to hear my surroundings. Plus I have never been a fan of in-ear as I find them too good at noise cancelling and also, quite uncomfortable as my ears are quite sensitive.

So, with my bit of tech I was able to find my way to the other bus. Once getting on, having double checked the number and that it stopped where I wanted imagine my surprise and relief when the driver said ” my bus has audio, so you will know when we are approaching your stop.”

There is an Eclipse route between Fareham and Gosport that has audio on it, just like you get only trains! But I wasn’t aware of other services or even other bus companies were using it.

So instead of having to rely on my iPhone and it’s apps, I would just sit back, relax and listen for my destination.

Audio announcements on buses is a major plus for many people, not just us VIPs, it works for people who are unfamiliar to the area or those travelling in the dark. Because, unlike trains you can’t count the stops on a bus as the bus does t always stop!!

So, with the help of all this tech I am able to gain even greater independence, without having to fully rely on others, I can also use public transport instead of more expensive taxis thanks to free apps that are available for smartphone and iPhone users alike.





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