Three more stations served by Avanti West Coast have installed way-finding technology to assist visually-impaired customers to move around independently.
The company has teamed up with GoodMaps, the software developer, to extend the service to Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent and Rugby stations. It is already available at Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly and Milton Keynes Central stations.
The navigation tool is known as GoodMaps Explore. It helps people to find their way around independently by giving them a digital map with precise directions to points of interest.
On stations, these could be ticket offices, toilets, refreshment facilities, taxi ranks or even directions to the correct platform and users will be guided through the station using step-by-step instructions.
The fully accessible and free app can be downloaded onto a smartphone. Once downloaded, the software will locate a station and users can hold up their smartphone and the image recognition technology will identify their position and will give accurate directions to wherever the user wishes to go. Support screen readers are available along with a range of other facilities, such as finding step-free routes through the station.
People with other disabilities may also benefit from using the app, which provides additional options and great flexibility. While designed primarily for blind and visually-impaired people, those who are hard of hearing or simply anxious about travelling many find the app helpful.
It is possible, for example, to see a static view of the stations and to experience the travelling environment remotely, therefore allowing users to familiarise themselves with the station and to plan their journey from end to end in advance. With the increase in the number of stations where the service is available, it is now possible for some passengers to make their entire journey independently.
This latest initiative by Avanti West Coast to support disabled customers travelling on the network added to the launch, in February, of the ‘Travel Companion‘ service, a dedicated communications channel to provide disabled customers with instant help during their journey.
Brandon Peat, Accessibility and Inclusion Manager at Avanti West Coast, said: “We want everyone to feel they can travel independently, so we're proud to have partnered with GoodMaps to give customers the option to navigate stations by themselves.
“The rollout of GoodMaps Explore will provide a consistent experience for customers at both ends of their journey on the west coast and help to make their whole journey as seamless as possible. This technology also offers opportunities to provide additional help to those who may need extra support during their journey.
“We hope to expand it to all our stations in the near future – supporting our commitment to enabling independent travel for all.”
Neil Barnfather, Chief Commercial Officer at GoodMaps, said: “Transport is a cornerstone of so much of life, be that in accessing employment, healthcare, social and leisure opportunities and more besides. A fundamental pillar of this lies in being able to access transport systems with ease, confidence and autonomy. GoodMaps is empowering people to do just this and through Avanti West Coast's commitment the network of locations people can travel to independently has grown yet further.”