In 1997, the public transport operator in Prague renewed its passenger information systems for its tram and bus networks with on-board and stop-based equipment (bus and tram). The main objective was to improve access to and quality of public transport. It took addresed vision-impaired travellers in particular.
Background & Objectives
There is no major technical difficulty in implementation. Compatibility with safety systems in the underground must be checked, as the radiowave system may interfere. Otherwise the equipment is simple and easy to maintain.
The basic passenger information system was fitted with a specific subsystem composed of vehicle-command equipment, a radio-wave transmitter and remote-control equipment. The visual information (identification of line and destination and waiting time before approach) displayed on LED screens is also delivered by voice message for the vision impaired, who have a remote-control unit with which they can get the information on demand. The control maybe integrated into a long cane (of the type used by blind persons). The driver is informed about their possible intention to get on.The system was first introduced on buses and trams. Then, to address the users’ needs, it was augmented to allow travellers order the opening of doors of metro coaches, which are not automatic in Prague. The system has been implemented in large stations and interchanges, together with guiding tactile tiles, to help travellers find their way (beacons are fixed at strategic points).>
The extent of dissemination of the system in the Czech Republic, followed by Germany, clearly demonstrates the usefulness and affordability of the equipment as a complement to dynamic-passenger information systems. It cannot be disputed that the Tyfloset system enables a greater degree of autonomy and better quality of life for vision-impaired persons, who can use it at low or no cost. One significant impact is a decrease in demand for specialtransport for disabled people, the operation of which costs 5 to 10 times that of regular public transport. Implementation of dynamic passenger information systems is part of the modernisation of public transport in order to maintain and increase patronage. There is also greater demand for non-discrimitory services for disabled persons, including equal access to public transport. The European Commission is working on directives to guarantee more autonomy in the use of public transport.In Prague as well as in Dresden, associations of blind and vision-impaired persons have raised the issue and have been involved in consultations about meeting their needs. Following the development of dynamic real-time information systems, standardisation of communication processes (remote control) and low-cost technology would be useful to broaden the market.For more information, please visit Prague