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Prepared for: Transit Cooperative Research Program Transportation Research Board The National Academies.

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Presentation on theme: "Prepared for: Transit Cooperative Research Program Transportation Research Board The National Academies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Prepared for: Transit Cooperative Research Program Transportation Research Board The National Academies

2 This work was sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and conducted in the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP).

3 The research team is grateful to the professionals and organizations that participated in interviews and conducted pilot tests of the pictograms. These include drivers/operators and staff from the following: Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, Des Moines, Iowa Houston Metro, Houston, Texas Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Kansas City, Missouri Kentucky Department for Public Health, Frankfort, Kentucky. New York City Transit, New York, New York New York City Department of Education, Travel Training Office, New York, New York Pinnellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, Florida TriMet, Portland, Oregon RideConnection, Portland, Oregon Tuscaloosa City Transit, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

4 Pictograms are picture-based communication tools that use illustrations with few or no words to communicate critical information. Emergency information must be more concise and compelling than normal. Studies in health care show pictograms help bridge communication gaps. Universal Health Symbols (UHS) project released 55 tested pictograms for use by healthcare institutions. Interest in transportation-related pictograms has largely focused on way finding and locations.

5 This study appears to be the first to explore whether transit riders in an emergency could and would respond to picture-based directions from a driver. Can pictograms be effective for people with communication challenges to aid in understanding emergency information and directions in a transit emergency?

6 Three components: literature review; primary research with bus drivers and representatives of transit agencies and agencies serving vulnerable populations; development and testing of pictograms Research team developed and tested variations on series of pictograms intended for use in a scenario where a bus was stopped.

7 Study was not directed at life-threatening emergencies (fire, bomb threats) that require quick evacuation. Projected scenario focused on flood event, but included directions for any event that would cause a bus to be stopped, have various further complications: delay change in route arrival of help for passengers if bus disabled.

8 Literature review examined: pictographs (information about objects or physical circumstances); ideographs (information about concepts or behavior); and combinations of the two (e.g., a human figure on a step expresses Step Up or Step Down, or, by extension, Watch Your Step.) Primary research engaged: bus drivers and operators to identify critical messages; experts who work with or serve people with communication challenges; and end users, passengers with communication challenges.

9 Bus transit was selected for the limited scope of this study, but conclusions reached have applicability to other transit modes as well. Four transit agencies and their partner community service providers conducted pilot tests inside parked buses to assess a set of 10 original pictograms designed to capture driver-identified messages. –Portland, OR –Kansas City, MO –St. Petersburg, FL –New York, NY

10 End users included a mix of people who had two or more of these characteristics: were native English speakers; spoke little or no English; were deaf or hard of hearing or had cognitive, sensory, or physical disabilities; were over the age of 65; were new to the transit system; or were caregivers, companions or interpreters for people with communication challenges.

11 Images were tested with and without one or two explanatory words below the image. Both ways, images with material elements were most understandable (e.g., Turn Off Electronics, Stay In Your Seat). Images more difficult to decipher contained ideas or abstractions (e.g. Help Is Coming) or an emotional state (e.g., Stay Calm).



14 Study showed that pictograms can be effective as a part of communication with transit riders. Substantial study must be done to identify and test images sufficiently universal to convey messages that transit drivers consider most important. Even so, drivers in study would have begun to use pilot pictograms right away: Just to have something to help us communicate better.

15 Driver interviews revealed MOST transit passengers have communication barriers because they are using digital devices, usually with headphones or ear buds. One driver estimated 95 percent of people who ride her routes have ear devices in use. Passengers tuned into personal electronics are effectively deaf or hard-of-hearing. Visual directions would help drivers get all passengers attention and communicate to them simple directions and basic information.

16 1.Picture-based communication with bus transit riders is necessary, especially in emergencies, but also in ordinary travel, because many bus passengers are incommunicado. They are isolated voluntarily by digital devices or cultural behaviors, or involuntarily, because of language, disability, or distraction (care-giving, pestering by other passengers, etc.).

17 2. Pictograms are useful for conveying authority. People responded to images and reported that seeing pictograms held up by a driver would focus their attention. All participants indicated they would do as the directions in a pictogram told them (if they could understand it).

18 3. Pictograms connected to material facts or objects are easiest for most people to grasp. 4. Pictograms that give directions about objects or persons (e.g., headphones, the driver, Stay In Your Seat) are mostly well understood.

19 5. Pictograms that give directions about simple behaviors without a material object are more difficult to understand (e.g. Listen), but more people grasped them than not. 6. Pictograms about an idea (Help Is Coming) or an emotional state (Stay Calm) are the least understood.





24 7. Bus drivers want effective communication tools and would welcome pictograms as useful. 8. Passengers want direction, especially in emergencies. Participants reported desire for simple pictures to explain aspects of public transit in general.

25 9. Pictograms that are immediately understandable are a valuable tool. Any that are difficult for most people to decipher increase confusion and could make an emergency situation worse. No pictograms should be put into use without careful testing. Substantial research is needed to take the idea of using pictograms for transportation into effective reality.

26 10. Previous familiarity with the images would be helpful to passengers. Flyers, signs or other educational tools to familiarize passengers with images that would be used in emergencies would be important for transit agencies to provide their publics.

27 Standardization of a new graphical symbol is a process to validate it against relevant design criteria and then accept it as a standard and publish it. Standardization or some type of formal accreditation attesting to the universality as well as utility of tested pictograms would have value. The most likely body through which pictograms might be accredited is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI 2012).

28 1.Refine the pictograms tested in this study. Consult more passengers, drivers, transit personnel and representatives of agencies that serve people with functional needs Test revised images with a broader audience, representing different community locales and sizes from those used in this study

29 These piloted pictograms are closest to being ready to use: Look At Me Turn Off Electronics Listen Follow Me Stay Seated Danger Images for Delay and Change in Route need more work, but they appear to be ones that could be made functional. Stay Calm and Help is Coming were the least understood and seem the least likely to be successful as pictograms.

30 2.Study the impact personal listening devices make on the communication circumstances in bus transit. Accommodating passengers use of devices and still maintaining order, safety and customer connection presents a service challenge for transit agencies that pictograms could help address.

31 3.Research communication tools in use currently by transit agencies, with agency assessments of effectiveness. Drivers reported they need every communication tool available to address the diverse ridership they now serve. A compendium of what is currently in use or is planned (or tried and abandoned) would be very valuable to the industry.












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