A Study on the Application of Universal Design for Urban Mobility of Buses - Seoul Design Foundation

The 2016 Universal Design International Seminar has obtained written consent from the speaker to publish the summarized and edited content

SPEAKER: Yoon-Jae Shin (Seoul Design Foundation)


The 'Universal Design Application Study for Urban Mobility of Buses', a collaborative study by Seoul Design Research Center’s TBS Research Center, Professor Young-Jun Koh of Seoul National University of Science and Technology and Professor Min-Hyeon Choi of Sungshin Women's University, started in June 2016 is expected to run until December 2016. The study aims to apply universal design principles to buses, bus stops, and bus operation information, establish a future bus service scenario study, and to study universal design in smart bus usage information. The ultimate goal is to generate universal design guidelines for buses and bus stops, universal design guidelines for operation information services, and near-future bus service scenarios.

This study was based on preliminary studies including, 'Criteria for standard low-floor bus model (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, 2016)', 'Accessible bus stop design guidance (Transport for London, 2014)', 'Japanese standard specification low-floor bus guideline', 'LinkNYC (New York, USA) as well as 'Maps related to domestic and foreign bus use'. In order to identify the applicable factors, domestic and foreign bus usage surveys were conducted, by visiting Seoul, Japan (Fukuoka, Kyoto, Osaka), and London, UK. Bus stop facilities, and operation information at bus stops were the subject of the survey. 

In the case of domestic buses, it was found that the vertical handle in front of the wheelchair user area of the bus creates difficulties for wheelchair movement. The wheelchair lift operation sequence was difficult to understand as the instructions were only given in text. It was found that electric wheelchairs could be dangerous because they could not be fixed to the bus. 


On Japanese buses, lighting was installed at the top of the door, and a folding ramp was installed for easy access for wheelchairs and strollers. An external intercom was also installed to enable communication between passengers and drivers. A handrail was installed in front of the wheelchair user's space for easy access by wheelchair users. Unlike in Korea, the handle in front of the wheelchair user's space is in the shape of a 'C' rather than a vertical one, so it did not interfere with the movement of the wheelchair. In addition, the space under the handle can be used, which is advantageous. In the case of domestic buses, it is a standard practice in case of an emergency to break the window and escape, but in Japan, emergency exits were installed for emergency evacuation.



Looking at the external bus operation information, in Korea, the bus LED is used to inform the operation information. The biggest problem with this is that the bus stop names are displayed alternately in Korean and English every 2-3 seconds, which can make it difficult to recognize them. In addition, the direction of bus operation was unknown. In contrast, in the case of Japan, the direction of major stations was indicated, and in Singapore, the destination was displayed on the outside of the bus to prevent accidentally travelling in the wrong direction. In Fukuoka, Japan, bus fares and bus service information were displayed on a dual display on the inside of the bus service information display, and in Kyoto, details of local attractions were also included.



In Japan, information at the bus stop was made accessible to general passengers and foreigners by giving details of bus arrivals in Japanese and English and in three modes (5 stops before, 3 stops before, and currently approaching). I looked at the barrier-free bus stop in Seoul (Samsung Chereville Apartment Station in Jangan-dong), and the wheelchair waiting area (the location for boarding the low-floor bus) was located in a braille block, so there was a risk of collision between the visually impaired and passengers using a wheelchair. In addition, the use of space was inefficient because the sign was located in the moving space. On the other hand, in Japan, signs were installed adjacent to the sidewalk so as not to obstruct the movement of pedestrians. In the case of narrow sidewalks, the stops are installed in the reverse direction and are designed not to obstruct the movement of pedestrians.


Based on the previous cases, a survey on the experience of bus users (Service Shadowing) and a Co-creation Workshop were conducted. Bus drivers, wheelchair users, the visually impaired, advisors, and researchers participated in this workshop. By observing the low-floor bus use process of wheelchair users and visually impaired people together (Service Shadowing), problems and needs were identified, and ideas for bus service improvement were generated. As a result, a draft of the ‘Bus Service Universal Design Guidelines’ is currently being prepared. The guidelines are largely divided into bus use, external bus operation information, bus internal operation information, and bus shelter signs and operation information.

As for the main guidelines for using the bus, lights that illuminate the feet of the entrance should be installed so that the visually impaired and the elderly can get on and off safely at night. We would like to suggest installing the handle in a position which does not interfere with movement of passengers and passengers in wheelchairs. If two wheelchair user spaces (four general seats) are secured inside the bus, and the third seat of the general seat corresponding to the wheelchair space is designated as a free space, a stroller or suitcase can be placed there. We propose installing emergency exits for the quick and safe evacuation of passengers in case of emergency, and when getting on and off the bus, it is intended to minimize inconvenience to all by notifying general waiting passengers outside the bus and to other vehicles that the bus is stopped to assist a wheelchair user.

Operation information on the outside of the bus needs to be displayed conspicuously to show the bus’s direction of travel, and operation information inside the bus should also indicate the name of the next stop and destination clearly. In addition, it would be desirable to deliver this information in various ways so that the blind, deaf, and others can understand the destination.


Bus service information with directions

Need for connecting braille blocks


As for bus stops, it is necessary to lay braille blocks so that the movement of the visually impaired and wheelchair users do not overlap. In addition, in case a wheelchair user is waiting at a bus stop, a reservation button should be created, and the bus driver should be able to prepare the passenger in a wheelchair for boarding.

Based on these guides, the Seoul Design Foundation is preparing a 'app-based near future bus use information utilization scenario'. This is to consider problems that may occur at each point from searching for information to getting off the bus, and to provide a service for guidance accordingly. Solar charging is installed on the awning at the top of the bus stop, space for wheelchairs and suitcases is provided in the waiting area, and information is delivered to the bus by making a reservation through a mobile application. The display at the bus stop will support voice guidance, seeking ways to provide more information than before. When boarding the bus, the wheelchair lift descends according to the boarding of the wheelchair user to facilitate boarding and includes a plan to secure the wheelchair in a defined space. In addition, we plan to provide a free space for passengers with strollers or suitcases, make boarding reservations for the visually impaired, and design so that wheelchair users can get off after making a reservation through the mobile application even while using the bus.

Since the App-based near-future bus use information utilization scenario is a project currently in progress, there are still things that need to be supplemented through ongoing research. Consideration of the transportation vulnerable is a task that needs to be continuously studied in the present and in the future, and an approach and interest in access to public facilities that can be used by all are required.

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