Chipman bill to make public transit more accessible

Posted: May 08, 2019 | Senator Chipman

AUGUSTA — Legislation from Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, LD 1166, “An Act To Require Public Transit To Be Accessible to Blind or Visually Impaired Riders,” received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee on Thursday. The bill would require all state and municipal public transportation to be equipped with an automated announcement system.


“Providing automated bus announcements makes sense for all riders. It can help tourists find their destinations more efficiently and is also imperative to the independence of our visually impaired community,” said Sen. Chipman.


It’s an impediment for any rider when the bus driver does not announce the stop. By providing an automated announcement system, the confusion could be mitigated for all riders. In addition, bus drivers would be able to pay closer attention to their responsibility of driving. This legislation aims to promote the independence of the visually impaired community, and serve as a benefit and safety to many others. The bill includes an exemption for vehicles that cannot reasonably be equipped with the announcement system.


Mike Frager, a bus operator for Greater Portland Transit District, spoke in support of LD 1166: “In following the current law, I am required to either pick up a microphone and turn it on, taking my hand off the wheel and possibly my eyes off the road, while I announce the stops,” said Frager. “An automated system would allow me to concentrate on driving while not having to be concerned with where a microphone is or when to make an announcement.”


No one spoke in opposition of LD 1166 at Thursday’s public hearing.


The bill faces further action in the committee and votes before the Maine Senate and House.