Metro to launch app, website next fall to assist riders with disabilities

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Metro officials aim to launch the service, which will help riders navigate the transit system, next October.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will launch a new app next fall to help people with disabilities ride the Metro.

WMATA officials hope to launch the Beacon Wayfinding Project, which will provide riders with audio-based navigation for 10 Metro stations and 2,200 Metrobus stops, by October 1, 2020, The Washington Post reported Sunday. The service will answer questions and provide information about the transit system through a website and free app, and officials hope to expand the program to all stations, according to The Post.

“By addressing this challenge, we empower our customers with disabilities to more fully use Metrobus for their travel needs,” James Hamre, Metro’s director of bus planning, told The Post.

David Shaffer, WMATA’s Americans with Disabilities Act office ombudsman, told The Post that the new website will allow riders to rehearse their transit route online by viewing pictures of nearby landmarks. The app will include settings for individuals with wheelchairs and haptic alerts for deaf riders, he told The Post.

The new app will allow riders to obtain navigational information through small $15 beacons installed at Metro stations that can interact with smartphones accurately enough to locate a rider within one yard at stations, The Post reported. Metro officials have already installed beacons at seven Metro stations: Rosslyn, Metro Center, L’Enfant Plaza, Navy Yard-Ballpark, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Fort Totten and Silver Spring.

Shaffer told The Post that WMATA officials are still deciding whether to use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a combination of the two services to allow riders to determine their location.

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