Traveler information on PC/Internet
Most Transport Authorities and Transport Operators provide extensive information on the internet. This may be a set of pages within their general website. The content and depth varies widely. Information for travellers ranges from general advice on how to use the services to specific information about routes, tickets, prices, etc.
Traveller information available on the internet includes:
- Journey planning information
- Network, urban and route maps
- Timetables for individual bus services
- Information on other transport services (e.g. rail, tram, long-distance bus)
- Information on ancillary modes (e.g. DRT, community transport)
- Notification of route and timetable changes
- Emergency plans
- Journey planning tools
- Find a specific location or location type (e.g. hospitals)
- Identify routes serving a specific location
- Point-to-point planner
- Dynamic journey planner
- Real-time passenger information
- View real-time service location for area, route, bus-stop
- Information on how to get RTPI on mobile devices
- Fares and ticketing information
- Fare structure and prices, variations and discounts, rules for interchanges/transfers, and how to calculate the fare for a specfic journey by origin/destination, time of day and day of week
- Fare products and prices, conditions and limitation for use of each
- Concessionary fares/pass types, eligilibity criteria and how/where to apply
- Information on how to purchase fare products, how to validate tickets, rules and penalties
- Listing of agents and other purchase locations for fare products
- Online purchase and/or value-adding facilities
- Offers and promotions
- User account
- User profile (remembers user, settings, favourites)
- News items
- Marketing messages
- Press releases and news
- Contact details
- Customer support
- Operations, depots, terminals
- Other bus and rail operators
- Retail outlets
- Customer feedback and Complaints
Many other location-specific information categories can also be found on websites of transport authorities and operators.
Technologies, data and resources
The principal technologies used for Traveller Information on the PC/Internet (on the Authority/Operator side) are:
- Server(s) and associated platform to store the traveller information
- Server(s) and associated platform to handle the internet requests and dissemination
- Input channels for real-time and static data sourced from other servers
- Application software
- Mapping and GIS software
This service also exploits a vast and distributed set of technologies, being the internet and its communications, and the end-users devices (PCs, computers, smart phones, etc.).
The data requirements include:
- Network, route, bus-stop and local area maps and descriptors
- Service details for all modes covered by the traveller information service, including timetables, journey times, sectional journey times, fare structures and tables
- Fare products, pricing and use information
- Inputs from the real-time passenger information system
- Content for all non-dynamic information
Advantages and Cautions
The primary advantages of Traveller Information on PC/Internet applications are to:
- Provide extensive information to all potential customers
- Be easily updateable, overcome problems of changing printed media
- Advise of major service changes/response in case of emergency, weather event, etc.
- Exploit the universal distribution channel of the internet and personal computers
- Support online services
The principal cautions in relation to Traveller Information on PC/Internet are:
- The importance of design is very often underestimated. Key issues include:
- Hierarchy of information
- Page layout
- Navigation options
- Search tools
- The Traveller Information services will be used by all sectors of the population. The same page and content must be useful and understandable to both the tech-savvy and the hesitant or first-time user.
- Different users may have different download speeds or quality of connection to the internet. Heavy content may be too slow to download for such users.
- The time taken and the number of pages required to find the information sought by the user is of critical importance. Most users quickly reach a point where they consider the service to be unhelpful or frustrating and they will leave it for other options.
- The Traveller Information facility is a primary marketing tool and customer interface. The user’s experience with the online information services will reflect on their opinion of the transport services.
- Online traveller information contains a very large amount of information. Structured processes are required to ensure that information is complete, accurate and timely.
Relevant Case Studies
Dublin, Prince William County, Zurich