Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Traveller Services

Author Martin Pyne (Centro - West Midlands, UK)

ITS-based traveller information systems are designed to give accurate information on traffic and transport service conditions so that travellers and fleet managers can adjust times, routes and modes of travel accordingly. Drivers can be advised to change their planned route to avoid incidents, congestion or severe weather conditions (based on historical as well as real-time current data). Public transport users can be informed about delays to services and available alternatives. Those users willing to change their mode of tranport can be provided with alternative travel options, recognising that choices may need to be made some time in advance of the actual time of travel.

The internet, mobile phones and navigation devices can also be used to provide people with directory information and access to other location-related services. These traveller services are often developed collaboratively between the public and private sectors. Travel information is, in fact, the doorway to a whole new generation of commercially viable, value-added, traveller services developed by private sector service providers.

There are many viewpoints on traveller information. The relevance of information changes as we progress through a journey. It is important to recognise that the level of detail needed changes, depending on the user and where they are in their journey. For example, information about which platform a train departs from, is unlikely to be of much interest several hours on from when the information was needed.

Traveller services can be divided into four distinct types:

  • pre-trip Information
  • en-route Information
  • location based services
  • social media/social data functions

Pre-trip information is vital to ensuring users of transport networks are informed of the choices available, and any pre-existing conditions associated with the transport networks concerned. ITS traveller information applications that can assist the traveller prior to their journey include:

  • single mode internet journey planners
  • multi-mode internet journey planners
  • phone based journey planning
  • TV and radio based travel bulletins
  • kiosk pages

En-route information is important to keep travellers informed during their journey to provide the opportunity for making informed decisions about changesIt may or may not be possible to make a route or mode change at any particular point, but awareness of likely delays is a significant benefit to the traveller. En–route ITS traveller information tools include:

  • mobile internet & wireless websites and applications
  • radio
  • roadside variable message signs
  • in-vehicle systems – both public transport and private (traffic enabled satellite navigation)

Location based services, which make use of GPS receivers and accelerometers within mobile phones are an increasingly important component of traveller services. These include:

  • mobile journey planners
  • real Time Information apps for public transport ‘when’s my next bus/train’
  • ‘Where’s my nearest’ apps for transport services
  • truck park search and reservation
  • tourist information – points of interest
  • location based marketing services and e-commerce

These location based services are increasingly making use of data from a variety of sources - and many services provide several of the functions listed above.

There is an ever increasing role for social media and crowd sourced data within Traveller Services. They provides an important platform to disseminate information about delays and disruption on the transport network - and allow users to communicate with each other and with the transport authority. Correctly used, they can be a powerful tool.

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