This Technology Is Helping the Visually Impaired Find Buses in Chennai

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The Metropolitan Transport Corporation has fitted 75 buses on 10 routes with radio frequency transmitters to help the visually challenged. The move, which follows the intervention of the Madras high court, will help the blind know about the arrival of these buses well ahead.

A senior MTC officer said the technology was available on buses on these routes: 54 (Poonamallee-Broadway), E18 (Broadway-Guduvanchery) 25G (Poonamallee-Anna Square), 45B (Guindy Industrial Estate-Anna Square), 21E (Nandambakkam-Broadway); 21E Extension (Defence Colony-Broadway); 23C (Ayanavaram-Besant Nagar); 47D (Thiruvanmiyur- Ambattur OT); 56D (Broadway-Ennore) and D70 (Velachery-Ambattur Industrial Estate). The new buses in which the transmitters have been fitted will arrive in a gap of 10-15 minutes. “The visually challenged will no longer need to seek the help of those standing nearby,” said an official.

The routes of the buses on which the transmitters fitted were identified by the visually challeneged association, while MTC officials have advised the depot managers concerned not to divert the selected buses to avoid confusion. “In case, a bus with a transmitter develops a snag, the transmitter has to be shifted to the spare bus and this has been informed to all depots through a circular,” he said.

Welcoming the move, Raj Cherubal, director of Chennai City Connect, an infrastructure platform for urban stakeholders, said any device such as a RFT (radio fequency transmitter) should be maintained properly and extended to the entire fleet. Ahmedabad-based founder of Urban Voices, Kumar Manish, said the welcome initiative, however, had its limitations as it was installed only on a few bus routes. “It is important that every city address the issue holistically, like incorporating design elements for streets that support and facilitate movement of visually challenged. Few bus stop locations are clearly marked and bus information is not provided in braille. Walking to bus stops is still a major challenge for visually challenged,” he said.

An example, say experts, is the GPRS-based information display at bus stops introduced in Chennai in 2009 when low floor buses were launched. A select few bus stops were fitted with a display board providing information about buses, but the system was not extended after 2011. Subsequently, the display boards were removed from bus stops, admitted a senior MTC official.

News Source: TOI

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