Provide clear and customer-friendly guidance for travellers during their journey from the first to the last bus stop.
The public transport journey has to be simple and easy to use from door to door. Both regular and non-regular travellers must be able to find their way easily. Therefore, accurate clear and simple information and signage has to be available from the first to the last bus stop. Ideally vehicles, infrastructure and public-facing information have a common appearance and all the elements of the information system are integrated in terms of their message, graphic treatment and colour scheme (corporate design). For hints on information needs during the trip see ► Background information: The trip chain and the need of information.
Bus stops: The bus stop or bus station should provide highly visible and clearly understandable information about services available, including:
Timetables clearly showing site-specific departure times with destination names
Route number(s) of services using the same stop or station, if applicable
Network map identifying all services using the stop or station
Stop name (and number, if applicable)
Contact details for public transport information
Fare zone number where transport is located
City map of bus stop surroundings to find the way to the final destination
Real-time information displays about the expected departure of the next bus substantially improve the service for waiting passengers. If real-time data is available, but investment into local infrastructure is pending, this useful information can be forwarded to customers by mobile phones (dialling a stop-specific number to get departure information or mobile internet access to real-time information).
Major interchange points (bus / train stations) should have:
A recognisable network logo clearly displayed
Clear visible way-finding signage to direct the user
Directional information indicating where
Information can be obtained (for example the customer information centre)
Alternative transport such as taxis / bike rental / car sharing are available
A locality map orientating the user
Bus Exterior: Bus number (or name) and destination have to be displayed clearly and visibly at least on the front of the bus, but preferably also on the nearside and rear of the bus.
Bus driverís information in the bus: Bus drivers Ė belonging to the front line staff of the company Ė will be the first people whom customers will ask for information. Of course, they cannot know every detail, but they should have enough knowledge to be able to inform passengers on:
Bus stops / destinations along the bus route concerned
Connections and alternatives
Major changes and abnormal conditions
Tickets and tariffs
Where they can get additional information
Where they can submit complaints and suggestions
This should be an important element of the driverís training.
Static (printed) information in the bus: If feasible, the following information should be available in the bus:
Leaflets or small posters informing the customer about timetable-changes, new bus services, special offers etc.
A network map.
If the network and the timetable are easy and simple, it is useful to have printed leaflets containing all the relevant information of the public transport system (network, timetables, tickets and tariffs, relevant contact addresses).
Dynamic information in the bus:
Real-time information displays showing the next stop and destination are very often standard in new buses and provide a very useful service, especially for passengers unfamiliar with the route and the bus stop where they have to leave the bus.
Audio announcement of the next stop, including interchange possibilities, is an extra service for all passengers, not only for persons with a visual impairment.
Infotainment screens can be used to provide extra information about the public transport service (e.g. special offers, timetable changes, temporary route changes etc.).
It is important that all the information elements during the journey are of high quality, and are reliable and consistent. Regular maintenance and noticing defects in-time, or aspects that could be improved, is important. Not only information provided by the staff (drivers), but also other sources (e.g. customer complaints, information from customer board) can be very useful.
Information of passengers about disruptions or serious delays is a crucial issue. At first, information has to be gathered and synchronised from different sources (computer-based operating system, bus driver, police, fire department etc.). Subsequent operational actions (e.g. detour of routes) require immediate information to passengers. Operators should have strategies available on how to deal with common incidents and about how customers are informed. The major principles should include:
In the event of delays, or cancellations passenger should be informed in the best possible way as soon as this information is available.
In-bus information can be provided by the bus driver and / or real-time displays.
At major interchange points (if available) real-time displays will show the expected (delayed) departure times.
It is not generally feasible, though, to directly inform waiting passengers at each single bus stop about delays. Instead, a central telephone number should be able to provide waiting passengers with the most recent available information about the delays.
Brest (France): A centralised operator aid and traveller information system allows bus positions to be known every 2.5 seconds. Real-time traveller information is provided to passengers at many stops.
Graz (Austria): A system called ITCS (Integrated Transport Control System) has been installed, which continuously communicates the position of all vehicles to the central control unit. Consequently, there is real-time passenger information at many stops. Furthermore, the online passenger information system provides timetables, public transport routes, and door-to-door routing including footpaths, in close cooperation with the Transport and Tariff Association of Styria. Additionally, most stops are equipped with loudspeakers to announce information in case of incidents to waiting customers.
St. Moritz (Switzerland): The bus fleet of Engadin Bus in this tourist resort is equipped with flat-screen information displays providing information about the next bus stop, the time, driverís name, weather conditions, etc. This example is not part of the PROCEED case study analysis.
The Netherlands: Travellers have the possibility of using mobile phones to ask travel advice (06-9292) and to receive SMS information during their trip about (longer) delays caused by abnormal circumstances (accidents etc.)