When Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) planned their new facility for bus operations serving their disabled customers they turned to InterActive Group to design its state-of-the-art mobility assessment simulator. This advanced 3,000 square foot simulator helps COTA meet its federal disability mandates by providing a more effective qualifications process for their Mainstream paratransit riders.

Applying lessons learned in engaging museum visitors in sensory-based learning, InterActive Group's designers created an immersive experience that realistically recreates the conditions riders encounter using COTA's bus system. The simulator features a heavily modified bus with advanced visual effects and functioning systems to create realistic ride conditions. Audio and visual special effects, a working intersection and a photo mural streetscape enhance the realism as riders test their transit skills.

The new simulator creates the full range of environmental conditions that an individual may encounter while utilizing public transportation. As they guide customers through the simulator, COTA staff evaluate whether individuals can:

  • Make their way to a bus stop in a downtown setting
  • Recognize and board the correct bus
  • Interact with the driver and pay the fare
  • Recognize and exit the bus at the correct stop

Opened in the spring of 2011, the new assessment simulator is serving as a valuable tool for COTA to enhance its Mainstream service and is being studied by other transit authorities as they plan their own evaluation programs. As an added benefit, COTA is using the facility as a learning resource to teach new riders how to use the transit system.