Nova Scotia

No road rage here: 'calm' computer-generated voice coming to Halifax buses

A select number of Halifax Transit buses will soon tell passengers where they are and where they're going.

City hopes automated announcements telling passengers where they are will stop commuter confusion

The next phase of the $43-million transit technology plan launches Monday and will be introduced on 13 bus routes across the Halifax Regional Municipality. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax Transit's latest technology upgrade is a direction-savvy, computer-generated voice intended to make bus travel a little less confusing.

New automated stop announcements will launch Monday on a select number of public buses in hopes of making the commute easier for passengers who are hearing or visually impaired and tourists unfamiliar with the city.

Announcements playing through speakers both inside and outside the bus will tell passengers which stop is coming up next on 13 routes across the municipality. When the bus arrives at a stop, another announcement will tell transit users where they are.

Tiffany Chase, a spokeswoman for the municipality, said Wednesday the voice behind the announcements doesn't belong to a real person but is computer-generated. She described it as a "calm" and "soothing" female voice.

Passengers "will no longer have to rely on the bus operator or other passengers for bus location information during their trip," Chase said in a news release.

It took some custom adjustments to ensure the proper pronunciation for certain stops, she said. That means Robie Street will be correctly pronounced as roe-bee, not rob-bee.

Similar services are already in place on transits systems in other cities across Canada.

The city said the automated announcements would be extended to other routes early in 2017 if the project is a success. The routes included in the pilot project are: 2, 7, 20, 21, 35, 54, 59, 60, 72, 80, 87, 89 and 400.

The project is the next phase of a $43-million plan to upgrade bus technology. Earlier this year, Halifax Transit replaced its GoTime system in favour of a new departures phone line aimed at giving passengers live information on bus routes via GPS transmitters on buses. 

More than 100,000 people ride the bus every day, according to Halifax Transit's website. It has more than 300 buses which service some 60 routes.