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RERC-APT 2013-2018


  • Continued to develop, update, and deploy the award-winning Tiramisu, an accessible transit app based on UD concepts that has been downloaded by over 24 thousand users since 2011, accessed well over a million times, and has received mainstream industry (ITSA, 2011), academic (Steinfeld et al., 2011; Zimmerman et al., 2011), and accessibility awards (FCC, 2012).
  • Identified safety and usability problems in low floor buses, implementing solutions on Gillig buses currently operating in Buffalo, and evaluated these new bus designs in service.
  • Conducted usability testing on an independent wheelchair securement system, installed on a full-scale bus simulator. This led to a new Field Initiated Research Project for field-testing, which is currently underway.
  • Developed a prototype software using Python that integrates boarding and alighting times of those with and without mobility impairments to estimate bus dwell-times for different passenger conditions and bus configurations.
  • Published peer-reviewed papers describing the methods and results of our research. Multiple papers have received awards and recognition for technical merit.
  • Trained students and post docs who then assumed tenure track positions (Yale, Syracuse, Singapore Management University, Information Technology University of Lahore, and two at University of Michigan), leading to capacity building at additional schools.
  • Trained others who have entered industry and government career paths (e.g., Apple, Google, Ford, NYC Transit), thereby increasing disability awareness within these organizations.
  • Contributed to Federal rulemaking on ramp slope standards based on our research (NPR, 2012) and the industry-standard GTFS-Realtime (2017) transit information specification.
  • Established an Inclusive Transportation Consulting relationship with Stantec’s Transit Advisory Division.
  • Published the book, Accessible Public Transportation: Designing Service for Riders with Disabilities (Steinfeld et al., 2017), the first comprehensive professional book on this topic.

R1: Transit Communities

This project will focus on using the Tiramisu Transit app as a testbed to evaluate real-time trip information and community dialog. The former will provide a rich data-base for studying the use of transit systems by people with disabilities. The latter will evaluate methods for enabling and empowering transit riders with disabilities and others to increase situation awareness and assume a more active role in the local transit community.

R2: Vehicle Access Simulation

This project will focus on human factors research studies on key accessibility and usability Robotics Institute / RERC on Physical Access and Transportation 14 issues in vehicles that have not yet been studied empirically. This will fill gaps in knowledge identified during the 2008-13 RERC-APT cycle, address new priorities that emerged recently and provide information to develop user-oriented guidelines for product design, selection criteria in vehicle procurement, and input to federal rule making activities.

R3: Physical Access to the Last Mile

This project will complete a series of interviews and surveys with paratransit operators and users to study how vehicle design and operation practices, and usability problems with access to stops (e.g., sidewalks, crosswalks, bus stop and station design) impact mobility decisions and depend-ence on paratransit service. This data will be used to develop more effective paratransit operating practices, standards, and automated data collection tools.

DV1: Multi-Modal Systems

This project will design and develop software systems to help riders with disabilities during trips that require use of more than one mode of transportation, e.g. pedestrian paths to bus stops, transfers between paratransit and bus, etc. These are focused on addressing real-time information needs and increasing travel independence and system efficiency during pedestrian, paratransit, and station/terminal modes through low-cost approaches and crowdsourcing.

In subproject DV1.1, TechBridgeWorld will extend the NavPal Android app to support more independent pedestrian travel by people who are blind or low vision. In DV1.2, the Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Laboratory will adapt REVAMP to optimize hybrid paratransit-mainline transit trips. Finally, the DV1.3 project will extend Jeffrey Bigham’s expertise on mobile, real-time crowdsourcing to enable riders to obtain timely help while using public transit.

DV2: Next Generation Vehicle Design

This project will continue existing partnerships with bus manufacturers and product manufacturers and form a new partnership with a consortium that has developed an innovative low floor small bus. The project will continue to introduce UD into the development of new prototypes, as well as re-search findings from R1-R3, in order to address high priority needs of transit riders.

Partners In this Cycle:

Access Transportation Systems
Blind & Vision Rehabilitation
Services of Pittsburg(BVRS)
Champion Bus

Dallas Smith Corp.
Easter Seals Project ACTION
Gillig Corporation
IBM Research - Tokyo

Legion Labs
LINC -Design, LLC
Niagara Frontier Transportation
Authority (NFTA)