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NaviLens trial boosts tram accessibility


Blind and low-vision passengers on Melbourne’s tram network will be able to get to where they need to go more easily, thanks to a new navigation app called NaviLens.

NaviLens codes, which look like brightly coloured QR codes, have been installed on every tram stop on route 96 as well as on the interior and exterior of every tram travelling on the line.

When the codes are scanned using the NaviLens app, the app audibly provides passengers with information on their current location, routes serving the location, as well as live tram arrival information.

The app can read the codes from a long distance and provides spatial information such as in which direction and how far away the code is from the user to help people navigate the tram system.

The NaviLens app can also translate information into more than 30 languages.

The codes will also soon appear on all 100 E-Class trams. These trams run on routes 11, 30, 58 and 86 and on other routes during special events.

Public transport minister Ben Carroll joined representatives from Yarra Trams to install the first NaviLens code at tram stop 9 on the corner of Bourke Street and Spring Street, with more than 3000 codes to be installed over the next four weeks.

This is the first time a NaviLens code has been installed on public transport in Victoria with the express purpose of giving real-time public transport information to people with low vision or who are blind.

NaviLens codes have been successfully integrated into public transport networks in Spain, Singapore, New York and California.

The NaviLens codes will be integrated into the Yarra Trams operations centre, feeding live tram tracking information to the app, ensuring codes produce dynamic, accurate information at each stop and aboard each tram.

Feedback on the NaviLens trial can be provided to Yarra Trams on the Yarra Trams website.

“The NaviLens trial will assist people who are blind or have low vision to be more independent when navigating our city’s tram system,” Carroll said.

Yarra Trams chief executive Carla Purcell said the operator was always looking at new technologies that can integrate into Melbourne’s iconic tram network to make travel more comfortable, more reliable, and more accessible.