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Real-time information system

Tallinn

In the past, passenger information for Tallinn’s public transport system has not reliable and up to date. To make public transport more attractive, Tallinn will switch to a real-time information system.

Implementing sustainable mobility

At the start of CIVITAS MIMOSA timetables at approximately 900 stops in Tallinn were printed on paper and their replacement was rather time and resource-consuming. There was no real time information on PT available on any channel. Additionally, passenger information was practically unavailable in the case of extraordinary changes and delays in PT time schedules (extreme weather conditions, extraordinary reconstruction works, vehicles out of order, etc.).

Providing additional information on the actual status of public transport service in real time is one way of making PT more attractive to users.

The measure involved: • Installing electronic real time PT information displays at 6 bus stops; • Creating additional functionality to the website providing PT schedule information; • Creating mobile applications for smart phones using iOS and Android operating systems in order to provide real time PT information.

The main objectives of the measure are to:

  • Create a passenger-oriented information system that provides reliable, up-to-date public transport information;
  • Improve access and quality of passenger information at public transport stops;
  • Improve user satisfaction with the public transport service; and
  • Increase public transport use.

 

How did the measure progress?

The measure was implemented in the following stages: Stage 1: Preliminary studies (January 2009 – April 2011) – A study on real time information systems, optimal technical solutions for real time information system in Tallinn, definition of the high density PT stops; Stage 2: Negotiations with providers (March 2011 – July 2012) – Negotiations with providers of main technical solutions, displays, additional web page functionalities and mobile applications; Stage 3: Technical design and implementation of the solutions (December 2011 – October 2012) – Creation of additional functionalities of the web page, elaboration of software and mobile applications, design and installation of the electronic displays; Stage 4: Measure operational (December 2012) – The displays in PT stops became fully functional. The web page map with real time PT locations became operational in January 2013. As of January 2013 the introduction of Mobile application was planned to the end of March 2013.

The electronic displays are based on LED technology and the 6 most suitable locations were selected according to passenger volumes at specific stops, where the stops were servicing by the PT lines belonging to the PT priority system (PT vehicle priority in traffic lights, providing better reliability to the PT lines) and where displays would potentially have the highest effect on passenger satisfaction. The display size varies depending on the number of lines servicing the PT stops. The displays receive the real time information from the central server through radio communication, the update frequency of the real time information is 10 seconds.

The information displayed on PT stop display is: • Time; • PT line number and destination; • Timetable time of departure time of the next PT vehicle from the stop in a format hh:mm when there is more than 1 hour to the departure or the particular vehicle is not logged in to the system; • Estimated time of departure time of the next PT vehicle from the stop in minutes when there is less than 1 hour to the arrival and when the particular vehicle is logged in to the system; • Information on problems with PT.

Visually impaired persons can also receive audio information from the display with their compatible wireless devices.  

The webpage for PT schedules  is located at http://soiduplaan.tallinn.ee/. The page provides information on PT lines, schedules, stops, vehicle locations, predicted arrival times at PT stops, trip planning and ticket information. The data update frequency is currently (January 2013) up tu 30 seconds but it is planned to be reduced.

The real time information used in all three applications is based on GPS-positioning information from PT vehicles. The information is sent from PT vehicles to the central server through radio communication and it can be used for a variety of applications and services.

What were the outcomes of the measure?

The impact of the measure was evaluated with change in awareness and the general public’s acceptance of the plans to introduce the electronic real time information system displays at PT stops. The surveys were carried out in 2009 and 2012.

The key results from the evaluation were: • Awareness increased by 37% – The awareness of the plan to introduce electronic real time PT information displays at bus stops increased by 37%; • Acceptance increased by 8% – The acceptance of the necessity for electronic real time PT information displays at bus stops and the possible impact of them with comfort of PT usage increased by 8%.

The most significant barrier to the implementation process was related to the decision to implement measures “2.2 PT ticketing system”, “2.3 PT communication system” and “8.3 PT real time information system” separately instead of one integrated system. The whole process of implementation was also delayed by the decision of Tallinn to postpone several procurements from 2010 to 2011 due to financial crisis.

The most influential driver to the measure was the commitment to implement the real time information system – set by the City Council in the Sustainable development plan, service level standards and investment and financing programme 2004-2010 for Tallinn public transport within the common ticketing system. This helped to continue with the implementation of the measure despite all the delays and problems. The most important action taken during the measure was choosing a compatible system for implementation. Due to possible incompatibility issues with the existing systems the same partner was chosen who had provided the previous PT information systems in Tallinn with CIVITAS SMILE project and also the other MIMOSA measures PT IT systems.

The most important recommendation for replication of the measure is that the real time information system should, if possible, be part of a complete system from one provider. It is an integral part of the whole PT information system and should therefore be prepared, acquired and implemented in an integrated and consistent way. The most important recommendation for process of the measure is that using one provider for several measures has risks – The same solutions provider was used for other MIMOSA measures and because the other measures had higher implementation priority and the provider company had very limited resources, the current measure implementation was severely delayed due to implementation of these other measures.

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