Personal display on smart-phone or PDA
Smartphones and PDAs can be utilised to have a positive impact on the attractiveness and usability of transport services which benefits both passengers and the service provider. These technologies are increasingly capable of displaying various forms of traveller information including predefined service schedules, areas maps that include stops, terminals and points of interest, service connections, fares and fare zones. In addition to this, when Smartphone and PDA technology is utilised in tandem with automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems it is possible to supply passengers with information in real time, allowing them to view the location of a particular service or a connecting service and the estimated time of arrival for a particular stop location.
Mobile internet access allows passengers to go online while on the move to access service provider websites or to use an application to check service information. For passengers to access real-time information, on-board vehicle location systems transmit vehicle location data to a control centre AVL system via the on-board radio at regular intervals, approximately every 30 seconds. The AVL system automatically updates online RTPI services which can be accessed by passengers. Real-time information requires internet access, but passengers can access predefined schedule information of-line using the transport service’s Smartphone application or by pre-downloading schedule information from a website. Where these services are not available, have not been adopted by passengers, or where passengers do not have a Smartphone, text messaging can be used to provide real-time information. Such services are generally provided on request with the passenger sending the route number and or stop location/stop code to a designated phone number and immediately receiving an automated text message containing arrival information for the next few services.
Personal display on Smartphone or PDA is a traveller information application which allows access to service information at any time in any location.
Benefits and cautions
PDA or Smartphone travel information displays are primarily beneficial when there are interruptions in service schedules, as information for new or infrequent users, or to provide service confirmation to passengers. The ability of these devices to access mobile internet means that they are ideally suited to provide an interface between passengers and service information. Applications downloaded onto these devices allow access to a large amount of service data in real-time and in a pre-defined format. Additionally, in-built tracking devices also allow potential passengers to view transport service stop locations relative to their own location. This access to information gives the passenger more control of their journey and the ability to manage their time better.
These information platforms can be very useful customer service tools but development costs for such systems can be quite high. Text messaging services can present both an alternative or supplementary system providing a service to those who do not have Smartphones or PDAs and a service when no internet access is available, but these can also be expensive to set up.
Relevant case studies