Moncton to increase bus accessibility with new stop announcement system

Upgrades expected to be installed on 40 buses by next year also include reloadable fare cards

Codiac Transpo buses in Moncton will get technology upgrades to allow reloadable fare cards and stop announcements.

The upgrades include audible and visual information about bus stop and transfer points, replacing the need for a driver to make an announcement to passengers.

Debbie Jeffery with the CNIB in Moncton welcomed the plans, saying it would help passengers with sight loss.

“We’re definitely thrilled that this is happening in Moncton,” Jeffery said. 

Jeffery said people with sight loss have had to request drivers to let them know when reaching their stop. If the driver forgot and let them off later on the route, Jeffery said it could be problematic if it was an unfamiliar area for the rider. 

“A lot of clients have been waiting for this for a long time, so this is definitely a step in the right direction,” Jeffery said. “We’re really happy that this is going ahead.”

Contract awarded Monday

The changes are part of a contract worth more than $780,000 with Trapeze Software ULC approved by city council Monday. The cost will be covered using funds from a capital works reserve account and funding from the provincial and federal governments. 

Angela Allain, Moncton’s director of public transit, said in an interview that the upgrades will take place on Codiac Transpo’s 40 buses over the coming year. 

“This will really help people that have any visual or hearing loss and it’ll just give them more independence,” Allain said.

The system would support multiple languages. 

Angela Allain, Moncton’s director of public transit, says orders for equipment will be placed and the systems installed over the coming year. (Shane Magee/CBC News)

Jeffery said CNIB hopes the system can allow the bus route to be announced prior to boarding so a potential passenger knows they’re getting on the right bus, as well as announcements for each stop so passengers know they’re getting off at the right location. 

Jeffery said the automated system could help thousands of people including seniors, newcomers, visitors to the city and distracted passengers. 

Other upgrades will introduce plastic fare cards that can be reloaded from home or an app, replacing paper multi-ride passes that were purchased at retail outlets. 

“Basically it’ll be more convenient for the passenger because they won’t have to go necessarily to retail outlets to buy passes. They will have that functionality to buy more trips on the plastic card that they will have in their possession.”

Allain said coins will still be accepted. Fare can already be paid using the HotSpot app on phones. 

Other upgrades will affect dispatch and scheduling systems for buses, work that’s manually done today. The new system will allow passengers to view the locations of buses and give estimates on when the next bus will arrive at a stop.

Alan McGrath, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1290, said the union is pleased to hear about investments in transit. 

“Anything that can help passengers and drivers alike is a good thing,” McGrath said. 

Allain said with council’s approval now in place, Codiac Transpo will place the orders and hopes to have some of the new technology implemented by next spring. 

Allain said the dispatching software and reloadable cards will apply for all Codiac Transpo buses, though the automated signs or digital displays will be for the buses owned by Moncton. She said it will be up to Riverview and Dieppe to decide when to implement it on the buses they own.