CNIB Alberta and Northwest Territories advocates for smart bus technology in Edmonton


On November 24, CNIB Alberta and Northwest Territories presented a letter to Edmonton City Council, asking them to continue their support for smart bus technology. This technology – in particular, automated next stop announcements – is vital to Edmontonians who live with blindness or partial sight.​

Dear Mayor Don Iveson and members of Edmonton City Council:

As you and your colleagues begin the deliberation process over the 2015-18 capital budget, I would like to respectfully bring forward an issue that has already had a tremendous impact on over 17,000 Edmontonians currently living with blindness or partial sight: smart bus technology.

Technology has become an integral part of living independently for people with vision loss, and CNIB Alberta and Northwest Territories is particularly grateful to see that technological advances are making public services such as transit more user-friendly and accessible.

Thanks to support from the City of Edmonton, approximately one-third of the Edmonton Transit System (ETS) fleet will be equipped with smart bus technology by February 2015. Transit riders with vision loss have told us that automated “next stop” announcements are particularly beneficial, given that they can independently identify their destination and arrive safely – without having to rely on a bus operator to identify their stop.

Clients have told us that bus operators often forget to call out requested stops or, even worse, drop them off at the wrong stop. This is a serious matter, as such mistakes can lead to individuals navigating unfamiliar areas and putting themselves in unnecessarily dangerous circumstances.

After reviewing the proposed 2015-18 capital budget, we realize that there is no further funding that would see the remaining ETS fleet equipped with smart bus technology. Without this budget allocation, city officials have told us that it would take approximately 10 years before all buses are equipped with this technology.

Given the remarkable benefits that smart bus technology brings to people with vision loss, CNIB respectfully requests the City of Edmonton to continue the funding of smart bus technology so that it is available to all Edmontonians as soon as possible.

We believe it’s time for our city to join others across Canada – notably, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa – in becoming a true leader in providing accessible transit options for people living with vision loss. Fully accessible transit ensures that all Edmontonians are fully engaged in our communities and can access all that our great city has to offer.

Smart bus technology is a great step forward in making this happen.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours truly,

John J. McDonald
Executive Director and Regional Vice-President
CNIB Alberta and Northwest Territories​

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