On 24th May, Waymap and WMATA announced a partnership for more inclusive and equitable train and bus travel for the DC Metro Area. The new partnership seeks to make Washington, D.C. the most accessible city in the US.
On Tuesday, Waymap, the world’s most accurate and inclusive navigation app that guides users indoors and outdoors, debuted at Metro’s Brookland rail station. The groundbreaking tool, in partnership with Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, will significantly expand travel and community convenience for blind and visually impaired people in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Plans are in place to continue to expand the app for those with hearing and other impairments.
Waymap, which is free to all users and does not use GPS, is accurate up to three feet of a destination and can operate regardless of cellphone signal strength. The step-by-step audio directions direct users from their front door to their office, to the theatre, or any location with independence. The app’s directions are specific, instructing the user exactly how many steps to take and how many degrees to turn to face a train door, for instance, while also providing valuable contextual information.
“Today marks an important milestone for the blind and visually impaired community that live and travel in the DC Metro area,” said Waymap CEO and Founder Tom Pey. “Mobility is not a luxury. It is, in fact, a human right. As a blind person myself, we created Waymap because current mass market navigation systems are not accurate or detailed enough to direct people to their precise destination, and none of them consider the importance of indoor navigation. Waymap completely changes the navigation landscape for people who need audio directions that allow for them to arrive within mere feet of their destination. We are grateful to have Washington, DC as a partner for this important moment in progressing equity and accessibility.”
“This is the type of exciting investment we have come to expect in Washington, DC: an innovative technology that enhances equity and accessibility, made possible by a public-private partnership,” said former DC Mayor Anthony Williams. “As Washingtonians and tourists come back to city life, Waymap’s technology will help more people experience all that Washington DC has to offer.”
Waymap will be rolled out more broadly in phases with the goal of deploying the app at up to 30 Metro train stations and nearly 1,000 bus stops by September of this year. The app is scheduled to be working across the entire Metro system by early 2023.
Waymap was founded by Tom Pey, who lost his sight at the age of 39. The app’s technology is accurate up to 3 feet throughout one’s journey. After a recent trial by Arriva Rail London and Waymap in the UK between two different stations, 100 percent of participants said they would be somewhat or much more likely to use public transportation if Waymap was available. It is a constant travel companion for all people in an unfamiliar location.
According to Perkins School for the Blind, more than 7 million Americans have vision impairments – a significant population that traditional navigation apps do not fully engage. The app will HELP give back the freedom of movement to the 3.6 million Americans with travel-limiting disabilities that the U.S. Department of Transportation reports do not leave their homes. Waymap, the preferred choice of navigation for people with visual impairments and other disabilities, makes it easy for people to come together and build community.
“It’s part of our mission to make Metro accessible to all people at every walk of life,” said Metro Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dennis Anosike. “Our ability to share data that strengthens projects like these is important to our role of creating equity in transit for our customers.”
“We are proud to serve as a partner alongside Waymap and Metro,” said Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind President and CEO Tony Cancelosi. “Our Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind team validates the usefulness of Waymap’s routes for people with vision loss. This technology allows our community of people with vision loss to navigate safely on the Metro system and beyond.”
The current phase of the app is intended specifically for blind and visually impaired people, but future iterations will address the needs of those with other reduced mobility challenges.
“Under the leadership of Mayor Muriel Bowser, DDOT has made a long-term commitment to safety and equity as we continue to improve our multimodal transportation network,” said Everett Lott, Director of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). “Partners like Waymap are helping us meet this goal by ensuring all District residents and commuters, regardless of their accessibility needs, have access to tools and accommodations to safely and comfortably navigate the city.”
Waymap is the gold standard in navigation for metropolitans that prioritise inclusivity and access for all residents and visitors.