Public transport services can be confusing in busy cities. This is especially the case for occasional users who are unfamiliar with the public transport system. In fact, these are the people that city authorities are seeking to draw out of their cars. An unhappy time using public transport – getting on the wrong bus, tram or train, or anxiety about doing so – is just the sort of experience that will send these uninformed people back to their cars.
For this reason, many public transport authorities are spending large sums on upgrading their passenger information systems. Not only do passengers want to be reassured they are getting on the right vehicle when it arrives, they also want to be told how long they have to wait for the next train, tram or bus.
Considering the fact that the number of commuters and mobility demands are growing, the implementation of an intelligent IT system in public transport plays a crucial part.
The integration of wireless and web-based communication technologies in advanced public transport information systems has led to the provision of passenger information services directly to the users. Most of the existing systems provide alternative travel plans either for urban or for single-mode interurban trips.
Public transport is considered a key element to the policy objectives of achieving an integrated and sustainable transport system. Improvements to public transport operations alone will not necessarily persuade people to forego the use of their cars and make use of public transport modes. Moreover, intending travellers need to be informed of what is available for them.
Passenger information systems become compulsory in railway transport, as well as in other transport modes. They answer to the current changes which occur in passenger transport and in the environments which characterise public transport at international level, such as using low-cost technologies, improving services and increasing safety.
In the past decade, passenger information systems have evolved from simple video and sound solutions, that were not connected to the network, to integrated multimodal systems which provide information and entertainment to passengers during their trip, such as news, displays using the latest generation technological solutions, advertising or web entertainment. All these systems provide real time, fluent information on-board or inside rail stations managed and controlled from a single control centre. The modernisation of services has meant facilitating electronic data and information exchange in international, regional, urban or inter-urban traffic between the involved information and traffic control centres.