Metro Trains Melbourne operates a metropolitan rail system spanning 15 lines, 218 stations and more than 800km of track. The company’s vision is a proud railway for everyone, every day. With this vision in mind, the company has developed the Stop Here App, giving customers with a sensory disability the power to navigate the rail network independently, enabling them to receive alerts in a range of ways when approaching a nominated station. The Stop Here App was developed specifically for customers with a sensory disability. During the build phase, however, it became clear that the app would also benefit tourists and visitors who were not familiar with Melbourne’s metropolitan rail system.
This customised use of smart technology is greatly empowering for vision and hearing impaired customers, increasing their confidence and offsetting their reliance on traditional on-board train announcements and staff assistance when travelling on the rail network. The Stop Here App uses the GPS location, speed and heading of the customer’s smart device to determine when they are arriving, occupying or departing a station. The app then makes this information available in a visual, audio or vibrate mode depending on the customer’s particular disability and their preferred means of communication.
Traditionally, customers with a sensory disability have relied on standard communication tools to assist them in navigating the network. The Stop Here App goes above and beyond the legal obligations set out by the Disability Standards for Accessible Transport. The app provides a new and creative way to deliver helpful information to customers with a vision or hearing disability – most importantly in a specific way that works for them.
The app has been effectively marketed through the See-Hear-Feel campaign in Melbourne. It has also received positive media coverage across both print and television. Tourists and visitors can also benefit from the app, as it provides advance warning of approaching destinations and interchange points. This innovative use of technology, when combined with a reliable and punctual rail service, makes a solid contribution to Melbourne’s title as the most liveable city in the world (The Economist).
The Stop Here App was developed following extensive consultation with disability advocacy groups Vision Australia, Blind Citizens Australia, VicDeaf and Guide Dogs Victoria. It was critical that these advocacy bodies were involved from the outset of research and development. The participants provided valuable feedback about their experiences and were instrumental in the build and test phases of the project.
Metro Trains Melbourne is cognisant of the power of innovation, harnessing business benefits from the deployment of the right idea at the right time using customer-friendly technology. The business certainly benefitted in the months after the app’s release, with the company seeing a fall in train announcement complaints as downloads of the app increased – a positive outcome for the Customer Relations Team.
For more information about the Stop Here App go to metrotrains.com.au/stop-here
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