Hearing better on the bus; Michigan company is nation’s first to loop its fleet

David Kirkwood
June 20, 2012

OWOSSO, MI–The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Indian Trails, Inc., have teamed up to install induction loops, also known as hearing loops, on a fleet of 17 motor coaches that operate 34 scheduled routes throughout Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.

“I’m quite sure this is the first American bus line with hearing loops,” said David G. Myers, PhD, a professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, MI, whose own experience with hearing loss led him to become one of the nation’s foremost advocates for hearing loops. Myers added, “The Indian Trails/MDOT installation of hearing loops on inter-city buses is a model of transportation accessibility for the entire country.”

Gordon Mackay, president of Indian Trails, noted, “This is proven technology that represents an enormous improvement in the on-board experience of many of our passengers who are hard of hearing. The cost was relatively low―about $800 per bus―and very little maintenance is needed. We would eventually like to see it installed in all of our motor coaches and in all bus stations.”

Michigan’s intercity bus network is a public-private partnership. Indian Trails used federal and state funds to purchase the motor coaches that were updated with this new hearing aid user-friendly technology. MDOT also provides operating support to maintain the intercity bus service.

For tens of thousands of Michiganders, the Indian Trails routes are their only connection to with the national transportation network of airports, Amtrak, and Greyhound.

Hearing Loop Systems and Contacta, Inc., of Holland, MI, assisted with the custom design and engineering of the loop systems. Loops have also been installed on a pilot basis at bus stations in Saginaw and Bay City.



The inside of a bus, train, plane, or transportation terminal can be so noisy enough that passengers with hearing aids are unable to separate important public announcements from the sound of a crowd, a crying baby, background music, or nearby conversations.

However, if that same vehicle or facility is equipped with a hearing loop–a wire that runs around a space and is attached to a sound source—the situation can improve dramatically for people whose hearing aids are equipped with a telecoil. The loop system will broadcast the messages from the PA system directly to listeners’ t-coils.

Thanks largely to Myers’s efforts, the number of loop installations has increased rapidly in Michigan, as well as in more and more other parts of the country.

Hundreds of West Michigan facilities are now looped, including churches, auditoriums, libraries, community centers, airports, and sports and convention centers

For more on hearing loops, visit Dave Myers’s web site.

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