THE NEED TO KNOW

COM­MUTER IN­FOR­MA­TION VIA SUNDRY APPS AND SMART­PHONE TECH­NOL­OGY MIGHT BE SE­COND NA­TURE TO MIL­LEN­NI­ALS AND AGE-DE­FY­ING GEN-XERS THESE DAYS, BUT NOTH­ING BEATS A QUICK GLANCE AT A SCREEN OR CLEAR, CON­CISE AU­DIO MES­SAGE ABOUT YOUR PUBLIC TRANS­PORT JOUR­NEY.

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS FABIAN COT­TER

The jour­ney is one thing. Know­ing ev­ery­thing about it is another – and these days ev­ery­one can’t get enough pas­sen­ger in­for­ma­tion while trav­el­ling. We check out some key play­ers. Fabian Cot­ter re­ports.

It may well be a ‘sign of the times’ that bus, rail, ferry and what­ever else mode of travel con­nected to any city’s public trans­port sys­tem re­lies on ac­cu­rate ar­rival and de­par­ture in­for­ma­tion - and cus­tomers of­ten get such from their phones.

Or at least the down­loaded travel apps on them.

Yet those apps need to get that in­for­ma­tion from a source … and that source – in mod­ern times – can­not just dic­tate where trans­port modes should or could be along routes. Real-time data shared rapidly be­tween the ve­hi­cle or trans­port mode to the ‘base point’, which in turn com­pares it against timetable re­quire­ments and shares the out­come back and or to a source that dis­sem­i­nates it to apps for peo­ple to plan their travel against, is where we are now at. It’s the cur­rency we’ve all bought into. That’s just the way it is.

Ar­guably, for as sim­ple as it sounds to just get your phone out and touch screens and scroll to a point that tells you where your bus is or what it’s do­ing, that’s ideal when you are no-where near earshot of the trans­port sys­tem, or a node like a bus stop.

Once you are, it is the con­ve­nient clar­ity (read­abil­ity and ‘au­ral­ity’ – font colour, style and size of text; pitch, tone, ca­dence of au­dio etc) and ac­cu­racy of it that puts spe­cial im­por­tance on the qual­ity of any good pas­sen­ger in­for­ma­tion sys­tem.

From its front-end in­ter­ac­tion with the com­muter to its back-end com­mu­ni­ca­tion via in­ter­net and satel­lite tri­lat­er­a­tion (as op­posed to tri­an­gu­la­tion), so that ev­ery­one knows pretty much ex­actly where buses and coaches are at any point of time, the pas­sen­ger in­for­ma­tion sys­tem is key.

You want to en­cour­age and ‘psy­cho­log­i­cally wel­come’ trav­ellers with a great sys­tem and make them feel ‘re­laxed, safe, con­nected – and in con­trol’ of their jour­ney. And in this way it helps pri­ori­tise catch­ing public trans­port over per­sonal car use.

Things like air-con­di­tion­ing con­trol, il­lu­mi­nated and au­to­mated des­ti­na­tion signs, and high-def­i­ni­tion CCTV cam­era sys­tems are usu­ally all part of the pack­ages of­fered by top com­pa­nies spe­cial­is­ing in such sys­tems. As well as bus web-based mon­i­tor­ing, route data man­age­ment, ve­hi­cle travel sta­tis­tics, and ve­hi­cle track­ing and telemetry.

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