Real-time information in vehicles


Real-time information can be displayed within the vehicle saloon. This provides information specifically directed to the traveller in transit. The main objective is to reduce anxiety about when to alight and about onward connections. A secondary objective is to provide safety and service messages.

The two main formats for Real-time information in vehicles are:

  • Single or dual-line display, usually of LED/dot-matrix style, presenting the following information:
    • Name of next stop –primary mode, in many cases it is the only information type
    • End of route or key interchange/transfer point alerts
    • Pre-recorded safety and behaviour messages
    • Messages from the CAD/AVM dispatcher
    • The information is often in scrolling mode to increase visual effect
  • Computer screen format, presenting the following information:
    • Map of the total route
    • Map of the route section, showing the next 3-5 stops
    • Alert for the next stop
    • Interchange/transfer options at the next stop – modes, routes, waiting times
    • Safety and behaviour messages
    • Information about the vicinity of the next stop – e.g. hospitals, shopping malls, main leisure/tourist attractions
    • Information about using the public transport services, including videos
    • Some authorities/operators use the screen for commercial advertising. This may be location-oriented, presenting adverts for businesses in the vicinity of the next stop(s)
    • Some authorities/operators use the screen for news or infotainment, between stops.

The real-time information presented on the display units may be supplemented by automated voice announcements.

Technologies, data and resources

The main technologies used for real-time information in vehicles are:

  • Single- and dual-line display units
  • Computer screen display units
  • On-board computer or data storage unit for videos, infotainment, advertising and other pre-recorded information
  • Connections to the vehicle location system, door sensors and/or fare collection system to detect location and calibrate/initiate information display

The principal data requirements for the in-vehicle real-time information are:

  • Route maps, stop lists, stop locations (including georeferencing)
  • Real-time location information
  • Stored data and messages
  • Message feed from the CAD/AVM dispatcher

Advantages and Cautions

The primary advantages of Real-time Traveller Information on-board vehicles are to:

  • Provide travellers with relevant information while they are in transit
  • Reduce anxiety about where to alight
  • Provide information about interchange/transfers which the traveller is about to make
  • Provide a communication channel for the CAD/AVM dispatcher to give information directly to the travellers on an individual route or bus

The principal cautions in relation to Traveller Information on board vehicles are:

  • Location of the display unit needs careful positioning to ensure that they can be read by travellers when they need to. The interior of the vehicle presents some constraints. Central positions may be the most visible, but can reduce the headroom. Wherever they are located, it may be difficult to view them when the bus is crowded.

Relevant Case Studies

Dublin, Florence, Mysore, Zurich