Auckland Transport (AT) has begun the rollout of audio announcements in Māori on buses, which include the name of the next stop and when to transfer to a different service – and are then repeated in English.
Māori announcements will join te reo Māori at train platforms, on trains, and at ferry terminals. In line with best practices elsewhere, te reo Māori, being the indigenous language, will be in most cases played first before English.
Auckland Transport interim chief executive Mark Lambert says the new announcements will make it easier for everyone to navigate the city on buses.
“For our daily customers, they are a great reminder of when to get off, as people are often distracted.
“Additionally, 20 per cent of our customer trips have transfers in them, so messaging that alerts customers when they should transfer and saves them time and hassle.
Helpful for blind and tourists
“These announcements are also hugely beneficial for customers on board our services at night when visibility outside is low, and for our blind and low vision customers. They will also be particularly useful for tourists and new customers as well.”
Mr Lambert says bus drivers receive around 7000 requests per day asking them to call out to a customer when they have reached a particular stop.
“These new audio announcements will make it clearer to customers when they need to disembark, and takes that task away from bus drivers to make their job a little easier.”
Blind Citizens New Zealand Auckland Advocate Carolyn Peat says the announcements will make it easier for blind and low-vision customers to travel around the city.
“It means we can relax, without wondering where we are on the journey, and that means we can enjoy the journey. It will make it easier for us and encourage more of us to use buses.”
AT’s head of Māori engagement, Lillian Tahuri says ensuring te reo Māori is featured on AT’s growing bilingual network is part of its commitment to ensuring te reo Māori is seen, heard, spoken, and learned.
‘Helping to revitalise’
“We’re thrilled to play a role in helping to revitalise the language that makes Aotearoa unique, as well as supporting a thriving Māori identity in Tāmaki Makaurau, by connecting customers to the city’s unique culture and history.”
Occasionally, ‘sense of place’ messaging will be played, to tell meaningful stories at sites of historical significance to mana whenua.
“These occasional sense of place messages are important because they reflect the stories of the area from a te ao Māori perspective. They also create a more interesting journey for our customers and invoke a sense of pride and belonging.”
The audio announcements on buses are being progressively rolled out now, and are playing on various routes across the city.
The entire rollout on all the buses will take a year to complete subject to supply constraints.
Live service disruption announcements will be added around 2022/23 to tell customers in advance if their usual bus stop is closed, and to use a nearby stop.