New app helps riders with mobility needs navigate two Sound Transit stations 

Feb. 21, 2024
GoodMaps uses a riders’ phone camera to detect their location with an accuracy of up to two inches and allows riders to receive voice, visual or haptic signal instructions to guide them through the Westlake and Chinatown-International District stations.

A new app allows Sound Transit passengers traveling through Westlake and Chinatown-International District stations to receive voice, visual or haptic signal instructions to guide them to station points of interest such as station platforms, elevators, ORCA card readers and information boards.  

The app, GoodMaps, uses the camera in a rider’s phone to detect location with an accuracy of up to two inches and then delivers directions via the app to give blind and low-vision passengers, or those with mobility needs, instruction toward the station landmarks.  

How it works 

Once at the station, riders confirm their location, choose whether they prefer elevator-only routes and then select from dozens of points of interest, including ticket vending machines, ORCA card readers and station platforms. With the phone positioned vertically and camera pointed outward, the phone’s camera continuously detects the passenger’s location.   

If a passenger selects the station’s Northgate platform and chooses accessible routing, the app will provide audio instruction to guide the passenger to the platform via the elevator.  

Alice Klein, an instructor from Sound Transit’s Department of Services for the Blind’s Orientation and Training Center, participated with advanced technology students and transit users in testing the app in November. She noted the GoodMaps app thoroughly reviews the landmarks throughout the station.  

“I love the points of interest GoodMaps has built in that are sometimes not taken into consideration,” Klein noted. “The information board is a perfect example.”  

GoodMaps uses light detection and ranging (LiDAR) to create 3D maps of the two Link stations. The app utilizes smartphone camera-based positioning to detect a more accurate location than apps using GPS or Bluetooth technology. GoodMaps is already in use at transit stations in London and at Portland Airport. 

Westlake and Chinatown-International District stations are the first two Sound Transit stations added to GoodMaps and are part of a six-month pilot program. After the pilot program, Sound Transit will decide whether to extend it to other Link and Sounder stations.  

GoodMaps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Goole Play Store.