I am preparing a post about Zurich’s real time public transport information system, but here’s another interesting item. A friend wrote to me from Nice:

How’s this for a charming transportation refinement: I’m staying in the old city of Nice (not a bad town, either) five tram stops from the train station. As you get to the first seaside stop, the recorded stop announcement is followed by the sound of a wave breaking. The next stop is the opera house, which is announced in French and then in Italian. The next stop is the regional bus station, which is announced in French in then in English. Then they go back to announcing just in French. Cute, eh?

They have men and women’s voices, young and old, changing for all five stops I’ve heard so far. Why NOT have an eight-year-old or an 80-year-old announcing the stops? I’ve always thought that the recorded announcements in San Francisco should use men’s voices with the local black San Francisco accent because that’s who drives the bus, instead of woman-like machine voices from Ohio somewhere, but I like this idea even better.

I think this is a great idea. Not only does the variation in voices and audio clues (wave breaking) add some creativity but it also helps remind you where you are in the city. The WienerLinien (Vienna’s public transport operator) had a recording come on between two stations of a child asking you not to leave your newspapers in the trains. I loved hearing it because it was so different and unexpected (even though I heard it between the same two stations every day!). By the way, after being asked so nicely I never left my newspaper again.