In Mid-November 2018, several buses plying Bus Service 139 between Toa Payoh and Bukit Merah have been spotted with a new Driver Display Unit by INIT, next to the Trapeze Common Fleet Management System Driver Display Unit.
The INIT unit is at the heart of the Land Transport Authority (LTA)’s new Assistive Passenger Information System (APIS), which introduces several new features to improve the commuting experience for commuters with disabilities.
Note: The launch date for this trial is to be confirmed.
Background & Features
In December 2017, during the opening of the sheltered walkway from Redhill MRT Station to the Enabling Village, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) mentioned that it was exploring the use of technology (such as navigation apps and other mobility aids) to help commuters with disabilities. One of these initiatives was tying up with German firm INIT to provide audio announcements on public buses for the benefit of passengers with special needs.
The trial was also previously brought up during the Ministry of Transport’s (MOT) Committee of Supply (COS) Debate 2018, in which LTA indicated its collaboration with industry partners to develop and pilot assistive technologies for commuters with special needs. More details of the Assistive Passenger Information System (APIS) for buses were revealed, such as the inclusion of a mobile application that allows special-needs users to notify bus captains of their intention to board. For visually impaired passengers, there will be internal and external speakers to announce the service number, destination, and the next bus stop. It also directly transmits audio announcements via hearing aids to hearing-impaired passengers. The trial will start later in 2018 on Bus Service 139, which serves the Enabling Village.
The first beta version for the mobile application for the trial was uploaded on the Google Play Store on 15 November 2018. Titled MAVIS, the app is developed by INIT GmbH and is based on the existing DEPARTURESlive app offered by INIT to public transport operators Verkehrsbetriebe Karlsruhe (VBK) and Albtal Verkehrsgesellschaft (AVG) in Germany.
Note: The beta app was subsequently removed from the Google Play Store in Late November 2018.
The app lists only a limited number of bus stops on the map, in particular, only bus stops served by Bus Services 139, 139M, 141 & 238.
Note: Stops Served by Service 238 has since been removed from the app in Late November 2018.
It is believed that apart from Bus Service 139, there are plans for LTA intends to trial the APIS on Bus Service 141 which serves the Singapore Association Of The Visually Handicapped (SAVH) at Toa Payoh Rise near Caldecott MRT Station, and Bus Service 238 which serves Agape Village.
Since the mobile application was developed by INIT, the user interface is adapted from a similar app used in Germany. The app uses “Line” instead of service number, and bus stops do not have their bus stop codes or road names reflected on them.
The Travel Companion feature within the mobile app provides real-time information on when to board and alight. The feature is disabled by default and can only be activated through a password provided by agencies such as SG Enable.
Profiles which are enabled through the password include:
(Bus Captain is notified on the intended boarding point upstream)
- Visually Impaired
(Service number and direction of the bus announced through external speakers at requested boarding stop)
- Hearing Impaired
(Internal announcements transferred to hearing aid via T-coil)
As of mid-November 2018, two Scania K230UB buses (SBS5051X and SBS5236E) have been observed to be installed with the APIS system. Both buses are deployed on Service 139 and can be located through the MAVIS App.
On-Board Bus Equipment
As part of the Assistive Passenger Information System (APIS), several additional pieces of equipment will be installed on buses plying the selected trial services. These include:
- Driver Display Unit to inform Bus Captains of disabled passengers intending to board the bus further down the route, so that Bus Captains are able to render assistance if necessary
- Induction loop aerial towards the rear of the bus (marked as T-Loop area) for internal stop announcements transmitted to hearing aids
- Internal Speakers on board the bus, for the broadcasting of bus stop announcements
– A total of sixteen speakers are installed within the Scania K230UB bus, supplied by Visaton
- External Speaker to announce the service number and direction at bus stops
– This feature was previously announced but has yet to be sighted on buses