Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



route transit system, new transit riders, Hillsborough area regional transit authority, Tampa, Florida


This proposed application, Travel Assistance Device (TAD), would use multimedia cell phones with built-in global positioning systems to help new transit riders, especially those who are cognitively disabled. Informational prompts will be delivered to the rider in a "just-in-time" method such as triggering the phone to ring, vibrate or deliver an audio message when the rider should pull the stop cord. Automated alarms can be triggered and the travel trainer and/or parent/guardian remotely alerted in case a rider wanders off their pre-determined path. Traditional phone communication is possible between the rider and the trainer which will allow them to guide the rider to the correct location if they are lost. This device could increase fixed route transit use among the cognitively disabled. While riders with cognitively disabled are the initial target market for this application, TAD could be used by any traveler. Navigating the transit system can be a major obstacle for attracting new riders, especially for special needs populations and tourists. Approximately half of the general population surveyed can not successfully plan an entire trip on the fixed-route transit system using printed information materials. For those with cognitive disabilities (approximately 14.2 million Americans, or 6.9% of the population), it is especially daunting to plan and execute a trip without any personal assistance from travel trainers provided by the transit agency or other group, especially on their first few trips. Potential impacts of TAD include ( 1) increased transit ridership (2) decreased costs to the transit agency by shifting some riders from paratransit to fixed route transit, (3) increased independence and improved quality of life for transit riders and (4) increased productivity of transit agencies' "travel trainers" whose sole job is to provide one-on-one instruction for new riders or existing paratransit riders on how to use fixed-route transit. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (FL) is willing to participate in the development and testing of the TAD. Other agencies have endorsed the concept.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Travel Assistant Device (TAD) to Help Transit Riders, Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida, 30 p.