Helping customers hear clearly at GO Transit stations

In a bustling train station during rush hour, while thousands of other passengers hurry through walkways and corridors, it can be hard to hear yourself think, let alone carry out a conversation.

For those who use a hearing aid, a loud environment makes speaking with someone else that much more difficult. That’s why efforts have been made to assist people who need help listening to a GO Transit station attendant at a service counter.

While GO service counters feature microphones and loudspeakers to assist with conversations through a pane of glass, those with hearing aids or other devices may still have trouble making out what a station attendant is saying. Those devices often amplify not only the station attendant’s voice, but all the background noise at a busy station as well.

For this reason, in spring of 2015, GO Transit partnered with the Canadian Hearing Society to pilot technology called an audio induction loop (“audio loop”) at select service counters in Union Station.

The audio loop is connected to the station attendant’s microphone, and generates a magnetic field that can be picked up by a hearing aid equipped with something known as a telecoil. Rather than amplifying all surrounding noises, the telecoil reads the magnetic field and amplifies just the station attendant’s voice, directly into the ears of the customer.

With the success of the pilot, more audio loops have been added to several other GO service counters, with the intent to implement them in other ways as well. With more self-service options at stations, audio loops are also being considered for intercom systems.