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London Transit partners with MagnusCards to make conventional bus service more accessible

A London Transit schedule and bus at the Argyle Plaza bus terminal on July 19, 2017. (Matthew Trevithick/AM980). Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

Officials with the London Transit Commission have unveiled a new digital initiative aimed at making the city’s conventional transit system more accessible and easier to navigate.

The commission announced Thursday that it had partnered with the makers of MagnusCards to integrate information about the city’s transit system into the mobile app.

Originally designed for those with autism or other cognitive special needs, the MagnusCards app “provides structured, step-by-step guidance with a game design to help teach a variety of life skills through free card decks,” according to LTC officials.

In the case of London Transit, the commission says the app will provide guidance to users on matters such as planning a trip, purchasing fares, riding the bus with accessibility devices, safety and getting help, using a smart card, and utilizing LTC’s real-time information service.

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The plan comes as one of the initiatives outlined in the LTC’s five-year Accessibility Plan, said Kelly Paleczny, the transit commission’s general manager. The plan set out strategies to address “local accessibility issues and regulatory requirements,” for 2020 through 2025.

The mobile app is a digital revamp of sorts of a spiral-bound, step-by-step booklet that was introduced as part of the LTC’s Get on Board Program several years ago, Paleczny says. The booklet was initially aimed at specialized transit riders, and was later expanded to more groups.

“Outlined in our Accessibility Plan was an update to that booklet, it needed to be updated,” Paleczny said. “It was a paper book, and with the rapid changes that we’ve seen in technology, the partnership with Magnus afforded us that opportunity to take that document and put it in an app.”

The London Transit Commission approached Magnus with the idea of utilizing the app after seeing other transit systems in Ontario do the same, Paleczny said.

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While the initial target for MagnusCard was people on the autism spectrum or with cognitive special needs, the commission’s industry partners and the app’s developer have observed an uptick in usage among other demographic groups, such as seniors and those who are new to a community or new to Canada, she added.

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“They have indicated that they’ve seen a much wider demographic utilize this app, and part of the arrangement with Magnus is they will provide us that kind of information — who’s downloading the app, how often it’s being used, which decks are being used most often, that type of thing,” Paleczny said.

London Transit information began appearing in the MagnusCard app on Thursday. The app is currently available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. More information can be found on London Transit’s website.

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