Developing an integrated multimodal traveller information system
The level and quality of passenger information services were improved by providing integrated data related to park and ride occupancy and traffic conditions on the ring road.
Implementing sustainable mobility
Users of connected transport services require a multimodal information system. Prior to measure implementation, the level of information provided to public transport users in the urban area of Toulouse was rather low, mainly because the public transport offer was limited: the first metro line opened in 1993 and the second in 2007.
At the end of the 1990s, mobility stakeholders in Toulouse began working on the multimodal information needed to create a global mobility management system (SGGD) through cooperation with the main mobility stakeholders in the fields of public transport and urban and/or interurban routes. This was considered as the backbone of further developments regarding multimodal information in Toulouse.
Public transport information systems were developed in order to increase the services offered to urban transport passengers in terms of real-time information, mainly in the city’s high-quality bus corridors and at intermodal stations.
An integrated information scheme was planned between the park and ride facility and the highway management company ASF to promote the use of park and ride and to provide information about occupancy rates and parking availability.
Between July and December 2006, the public transport authority and public transport operator defined the development of an integrated information scheme between the park and ride facility and the ASF to identify the most appropriate places in which to install the public transport information panels. It was concluded that the best place was at the intermodal nodes of the metro network and it was decided to install a variable message signal at the entrance to the second metro line. All intermodal metro stations were equipped with display panels between July 2007 and January 2008.
Plans were drawn up to create the Multimodal Information Management Centre, based on the integration of traffic and public transport operator information, as the central pillar of the passenger information system for the Toulouse public transport network.
Implementation of the integrated information scheme between the park and ride and ASF had to be suspended, as did the part of the measure relating to the SGGD multimodal information centre due to exploitation problems encountered by the public transport operator and to cooperation difficulties between the various stakeholders involved.
A quantitative survey was carried out at several metro stations on the two lines, targeting metro passengers transferring to a public transport bus connection during their journey. Two two-hour meetings were then organised with groups of four or five of the participants who had responded to the quantitative survey. Participants were recruited based on the following four profiles:
- profile 1 ⎯ passengers who had not noticed the panels and said they needed information;
- profile 2 ⎯ passengers who were not happy with the current locations of the panels;
- profile 3 ⎯ passengers who always or nearly always used the panels; and
- profile 4 ⎯ passengers who occasionally looked at the panels, because they were not appropriate to their needs.
In terms of the quality of public transport information, the public transport operator appeared competent in terms of information, except in critical cases, when the provision of additional information would be appropriate in order to reassure customers in the event of disruptions. All participants considered the information provided to be effective, with special mention given to the website, which most users considered to be well designed, comprehensive and easy to use.
There was no common behaviour with respect to sources of information: everyone used them according to the type and context of their trip and the urgency of their needs. Most of the time, participants made trips that were familiar to them.
In their existing state, the variable message panels were appropriate to the context and were potentially effective, but people did not really take to them. Survey participants criticised the readability of the screens as well as the variety of information displayed. Nevertheless, the survey highlighted the need to spread the variable message panels throughout the metro network.
The delay in measure implementation was due to cooperation difficulties between the different stakeholders involved. A partnership such as an SGGD comprises many different organisations with very different perspectives on transport and mobility. The concept of multimodal information is rather new and some of the organisations did not see the need for it and did not therefore prioritise the project.