Metro Transit buses will automatically announce stops, route info


Twin Cities buses will soon start self-announcing bus stops.

Metro Transit announced this week it has started to implement new automated audio and digital announcements on its bus fleet. These pre-recorded announcements are expected to help hearing and visually impaired riders, as well as meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

Buses will make external and internal announcements informing riders of the bus route, transfers, bus stops and when a stop is requested, as required by the ADA. Currently, making these announcements is left up to the bus operator, a system which can be unreliable, the Star Tribune notes.

External announcements will be made every time the bus operator opens the door to help those waiting at a bus stop. The announcement will say the route, branch, direction and destination of the bus.

Metro Transit says volumes for external announcements will be lowered from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Inside the bus, the announcement will tell riders when the bus is approaching a stop (it's activated by GPS), key transfer points for riders who plan to take another bus and notable landmarks, as well as when a stop is requested.

Digital messages will also scroll across a screen at the front of the bus detailing the verbal announcements (photo at left).

A female voice will be used to inform riders, Metro Transit says, because male voices are used for safety related messages. The organization notes it'll use text-to-speech software to make the announcements, which is less expensive and will ensure a stable voice. It is currently reviewing bids for the software, which will be paid for by a federal grant.

Metro Transit says announcements are currently being tested on routes 10, 17, 18 and Red Line BRT service, and by the end of 2014, 69 percent (664 of the 960 buses) will be announcement ready. Metro Transit adds that the entire fleet of buses will be announcement ready by 2017.

When the system is fully implemented, Metro Transit says it will feature 15,000 messages, including 8,700 transfers (except in the downtown fare zone, which accounts for 80,000 transfers) and 200 landmarks, which will be chosen by the Transit Information Center department.

The Star Tribune says landmarks will include schools, hospitals and stadiums, which should help passengers who ride at night or are unfamiliar with the route. Officials have compared this to a "way-finding service," the newspaper says.

The messages are just in English for now, but Metro Transit says adding additional languages may be a consideration in the future. Other considerations include: announcing controlled intersections without bus stops, per ADA requirements; improved "interval" announcements per ADA requirements – i.e. "approaching Interstate 694" and add downtown transfer information.

Next Up

covid-19, coronavirus

CDC says COVID-19 quarantine period can be cut to 10 or 7 days

You can come out of a 7-day quarantine following exposure provided you've had a negative test.

maple grove fire

1 person found dead inside Maple Grove business that burned down

A person had been unaccounted following the fire that destroyed Hanson Implement and Storage Tuesday night.

One-dollar bill, cash, money

Appeals court rules MN high school students can get unemployment benefits

They've been denied the benefits, and some were even asked to pay them back.

covid-19, coronavirus

Dec. 2 COVID-19 update: 77 more deaths in Minnesota

The death toll is closing in on 3,700 in Minnesota.

City Pages

Fan creates City Pages archive, Star Tribune tells him to remove it

After word spread that the defunct newspaper's website would go down, a fan created his own copy. Then he got a cease and desist letter.

Adam Thielen

Vikings activate Adam Thielen off COVID-19/reserve list

The star receiver missed last week's victory over Carolina.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.27.14 AM

Naked man shot by St. Paul cop is charged for sexual assault of ex-girlfriend

The 31-year-old suspect remains at Regions Hospital after being shot.

Lindsay Whalen

Whalen's Gophers start season with only 7 players available

Whalen isn't happy that a transfer wasn't granted immediate eligibility to play.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 9.21.08 AM

Baby steals the show in Minnesota family's viral TikTok video

Definitely busting out that wobbly baby move at the next party...

George Floyd protest

Activist groups release 'The People's Budget,' call for $53M Minneapolis police cuts

The People's Budget, spearheaded by Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block, would cut more than $53 million from MPD's budget.