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RERC-APT 2008-2013


  • Developing and deploying the award winning Tiramisu, a new accessible transit app based on social computing concepts that has now been downloaded by over 24 thousand users, ac-cessed over a million times, and has received mainstream industry (ITSA, 2011), academic (Steinfeld et al., 2010; Zimmerman et al., 2011), and accessibility awards (FCC, 2012).
  • The identification of safety and usability problems in low floor buses and initial implementation of solutions on Gillig buses currently operating in Buffalo. We will evaluate these new bus designs in regular daily service prior to completion of the funding cycle.
  • Over 20 peer-reviewed publications describing the methods and results of our research. Multiple papers have received awards and recognition for technical merit.
  • Robotics Institute / RERC on Physical Access and Transportation 12
  • A fact sheet on Universal Design & Accessible Transit Systems: Facts to Consider When Updating or Expanding Your Transit System for Easter Seals Project ACTION that was dis-tributed to over 10,000 transportation practitioners and disability advocates. 
  • Input on Federal rulemaking on ramp slope standards based on our research (NPRM, 2012).
  • The development of two transportation evaluation methods: real-time documentation using smartphones and systematic evaluations using guided tours (Steinfeld et al., 2012).

R1 - Empowering the User to Improve the Travel Chain 

Project leads: Aaron Steinfeld, PhD & John Zimmerman, MDes

This research will identify effective "citizen science" methods to engage riders with disabilities and others in improving public transportation accessibility by documenting and assessing problems and good solutions throughout the system. The goal is to empower riders, resulting in a greater understanding of the transportation system, and improve the feedback loop between rider and provider. These benefits of the citizen science model have been demonstrated in other contexts. The long-range goal of this project is to apply emerging information technology to establish self-sustaining communities of practice that engage in the continuous improvement of transportation technologies and related transit operations. The laboratory experiments (R1.1) and initial community field test (R1.2) within this project will evaluate a demonstration deployment of an accessible prototype system (DV1.1).

R2 - Human Factors of Boarding and Disembarking Vehicles

Project leads: Victor Paquet, PhD, James Lenker, PhD, & Edward Steinfeld, ArchD

This project will organize and develop a comprehensive evidence base on boarding and disembarking public transit vehicles, complete research to address key policy and design issues, and identify new research needs. A multi-method approach will be implemented including a systematic review, focused laboratory experiments, and targeted usability studies. The data collected in this project will be used to develop user requirements for design and evaluation of vehicle features, boarding technologies and products, and design of stops and stations. It will also establish a model for evidence-based practice in this field for the development of policies and standards, design tools, and a demonstration application in Project DV2.

DV1 - Open Information System Tools

Project leads: Anthony Tomasic, PhD & Aaron Steinfeld, PhD

This project will develop software that can be adopted by regional agencies to help people reach their destinations more easily and harness their experiences to improve the system. It will focus on two key functions in accessible transportation: a citizen science public website where riders can share information about where they are having problems and track solutions to problems as they are implemented (DV1.1) and mobile, real-time information access to assist riders in navigating the system (DV1.2). DV1.1 will be deployed and evaluated in parallel with the R1.2 Community Research subproject. Since the functions will utilize common data elements (e.g., routes, vehicles, location, etc), the components will use a common software base and conceptual model to minimize costs related to deployment.

DV2 - Improved Vehicle Interiors, An Industry Partnership Project

Project lead: Edward Steinfeld, ArchD

The Improved Vehicle Interiors Project will develop and test a computer aided design tool that can be used to increase the accessibility of transportation vehicles. The value of the design tool will be tested through development of multimedia reference designs and a Demonstration Bus project with an industry partner, Gillig Corporation. The design tool will be submitted to the Society of Automotive Engineers and the American Public Transportation Association as a consensus "Recommended Practice" for use in design of accessible vehicles. The reference design will serve as a guide for companies seeking to incorporate universal design principles in their vehicles. The redesigned bus will be evaluated in use.

Partners In this Cycle:

United Spinal Association
Gillig Corporation
American Seating
Easter Seals Project ACTION

IBM Research - Tokyo
RERC on Universal Design and the
Built Environment
Quality of Life Technologies
Engineering Research Center

Niagara Frontier Transportation
Authority (NFTA)
Port Authority of Allegheny County

Teams in this Cycle:

Aaron Steinfeld, PhD., Carnegie Mellon University
Edward Steinfeld, Arch.D., University at Buffalo

Support Teams:

School of Computer Science/Carnegie Mellon University
Anthony Tomasic, PhD
John Zimmerman, MDes
Charlie Garrod, PhD
Yun Huang, PhD
Ellen Ayoob, MDes
Steve Gardiner, PhD Student
Marynel Vázquez, PhD Student
Jian Li, Masters Student
Shree Lakshmi Rao, Masters Student
Yue Xing, Masters Student
Daniel Ringwalt, Undergraduate Student
Andrew Smith, Undergraduate Student
Agnes Won, Undergraduate Student

IDeA Center/RERC-UD/University at Buffalo
Victor L. Paquet, Sc.D.
James A. Lenker, PhD, OTR/L, ATP.
Jordana Maisel, MUP.
Danise Levine, RA.
Heamchand Subryan, M.Arch/MFA
Clive D’Souza, MS., PhD candidate

Alumni of the RERC:

William Goodale, Undergraduate Student
Jing Huang, Undergraduate Student
Rachel Inman, Undergraduate Student
Regina Son, Undergraduate Student
Yufei An, Masters Student
Xinpan Xiao, Masters Student
Chaya Hiruncharoenvate, MS
Allison Tran, Undergraduate Student

Taylor Raack, Masters Student
Piyush Kumar, Masters Student
Jiseon (Daisy) Yoo, MDes
Hanzhang (Echo) Hu, Undergraduate Student
Jonathan Park, Undergraduate Student
Tim Andriano, BS
Rafae Aziz, Undergraduate Student
Sun Young Park, MDes
Lauren Von Dehsen, Undergraduate Student

Uma Damle, Masters Student
Piyush Bareria, Masters Student
Rahul Aggarwal, Masters Student

Advisory Board:

Cathy Bodine, PhD
Dennis Cannon
Chipper Hazan
Kenneth Lin, AICP

Dominic Marinelli
Linda van Roosmalen, PhD
Douglas J. Usiak, BS IAE