Houston Metro's Beacons Serve Visually-Impaired Population

A system of beacons will send signals to cell phones in Houston to help bus riders find stops and navigate public transit safely.

1 minute read

June 3, 2018, 9:00 AM PDT

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark


Houston's limited sidewalks and wide streets make it difficult for anyone to navigate on foot or by bus, doubly so for the visually impaired. The city's transit agency is now taking a step to address that issue. "For less than the cost of a single bus, however, Metro might be the first transit agency in the country to take a significant step across an entire bus system that could open riding options to scores of vision-impaired customers with the use of a smartphone," Dug Begley reports for the Houston Chronicle.

The system of beacons placed on top of bus stop poles identify the stops for cellphones. Often finding a stop on a long block can pose a challenge for those with limited vision. Now, using beacons, a bus rider's phone will get signals as they approach a stop.

The system is likely to be relatively inexpensive to install. "Installing a beacon at all of Metro’s roughly 9,000 bus stops is expected to cost $375,000, meaning for less than the cost of a single bus every place that a bus stops will be accessible to the visually impaired and others," Begley writes.

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