Hello Talking Bus

I’m just home from a fabulous day. Today was the launch of the first talking busses in Northern Ireland.

Back in 2011, a pilot was launched to trial the audio visual announcements on the busses. It was only on one of the Metro 5A busses. From what i remember it was only on for a limitted time as well. The pilot was a success, so then lots of meetings with the Minister for regional development insued, along with lots and lots of campaigning.

IN October last year, the minister for regional development announced that funding had become available and the audio visual system would start to be rolled out by the end of the financial year on some of the metro services. This was great news to look forward to.

I found out last week that the service was going to be launched today. Of course i was very keen to go, as i had been so heavily involved in trying to get it rolled out.

So this morning, a lot of us met at Donnygall square west. Translink put on a bus especially for the launch, so it was a bus that went a different route than it normally would go. I can tell you, it was rather tight as we had at least 7 guide dogs, and more were at the Scanos centre which was where we were heading. I thought it was cool! All the stops were announced. I wanted to sit on the bus all day to see where it would go lol! The stops were announced as you would come up to them to give the driver time to stop and so that you could ring the bell in time to get off. The stops were also displayed on a screen. The company who made the technologywere called Vex technologies and apparently they were the ones who put the equiptment in to the London busses.

When we got to the Scanos centre, there were yet more guide dogs. There were about 30-40 people altogether with and without dogs. There were a few speeches to get done plus a cup of tea and a scone, of course.

We all then crammed back on the bus, and it was an even tighter squeeze to get all of us on. We headed up to Stormont to meet with the minister for regional development and to get lots of photos taken. The belfast telegraph were there as well as Cool FM and City beat radio stations who interviewed the minister. I made a bit of a mistake at this point though. The minister was asking how i was and i accidentally called him by his first name when i was talking to him. Oops. He didn’t even notice though. I just thought he was a person like everyone else, so why wouldn’t i call him by his first name. I’ll know for future though.

Lots of photos were taken both on and off the bus, and the minister went on the bus for a bit and we then headed back to stormont for some more photos.

By this stage, most of us needed a comfort break, so we headed over to Dundonald park and ride to avail of the facilities before going back to Donnygall square West where we’d started from.

It was a brilliant day. It’s only some of the busses that will have it from tomorrow onwards, but hopefully it will be eventually on all the metros. I hope even more that it will be eventually on the ulster busses too that are outside of Belfast.

I would like to thank the minister for agreeing to install it, plus Translink itself. It will make such a difference to so many people. It’ll be interesting to see what the public think of it.

Who knows, it might even make me want to go to yoga again lol.