Published during this week’s European ITS Congress in Helsinki, the EU Commission this week released a study on multimodal journey planners in Europe that reports that the information the apps and sites that currently exist provide an incomplete service to travellers.
The report Towards a roadmap for delivering EU-wide multimodal travel information, planning and ticketing services found the one hundred plus services suffered from a fragmentation of information supply geographically and in terms of the modes of transport covered, as well as commonly lacking real-time information.
At the moment, therefore, the report suggests travellers cannot make fully informed choices suited to their needs.
The report finds the same applies to ticketing: while there are many examples of electronic and smart ticketing, it is still not possible to buy a single ticket for a multimodal journey across European national boundaries.
Should the hurdles in the way of better services were overcome, the report claims that not only would travellers be provided with accurate information before and during the journey, but also there would be efficiency gains for transport operations and for the transport network as a whole.
The 2011 Commission White Paper on Transport asserted a need for integration of the different modes of transport to make mobility more efficient and user-friendly.
Online information, electronic booking and payment systems integrating all means of transport should facilitate and promote multimodal travel. The objective being to establish a framework for EU-wide multimodal transport information, management and payment services to be operational by 2020. The White Paper also emphasised that availability of information is essential for seamless door-to-door mobility.
EU Ministers subsequently invited the Commission and the Council to explore more ways to improve accessibility of transport data.
A European Parliament Preparatory Action ‘To develop and validate a European passenger transport information and booking interface across transport modes’ analysed customer needs, market developments and future trends in terms of multimodal travel information, planning and ticketing services. This report concluded that the main pre-requisite for such an interface was fair and equal access for service providers to data on schedules, fares and availability, for all modes of transport. This could be followed by a second phase, testing the feasibility of development, deployment and proper interfaces, which would build on the findings of the first stage, particularly the need to link the first/last mile with long-distance transport solutions.
A Fragmented Landscape
More than a hundred multimodal journey planners were reported as currently available in European countries, regions and cities - many of these developed as part of EU-funded research projects
Others are provided by different transport operators, start-ups or public- private partnerships. These services incorporate a wide variety of options, such as comparison of schedules, fares, calculations of CO2 emissions for trip combinations or availability of tickets for the selected trip.
However, the report found information services remain fragmented in what they offer, both in geographical scope (limited to cities, regions or countries; only covering neighbouring countries in exceptional cases) and coverage of modes of transport; rarely provide cross-border travel information, let alone EU-wide or door-to-door coverage.
Services such as car-sharing, car-pooling and demand-responsive transport, which provide more environmentally-friendly modes of transport, have not yet been integrated into travel planning to a practical level.
Real-time status information for public transport (eg bus, metro, and rail) and multimodal real-time traffic information systems exist in several urban and ‘extra urban’ areas in Europe and worldwide, either as prototypes or fully operational systems. However, existing services do not offer travellers real-time information across all stages of a multimodal trip. Travellers increasingly expect real-time vehicle location, and predictions (eg of arrival times) and notifications of travel disruptions, particularly while the journey is taking place, and on mobile devices.
There were also limitations on ticketing found. For many destinations, it is not possible to book an integrated ticket that includes both the long-distance part and first and/or last part of the journey. In addition, it is usually difficult to compare different transport operator offers for the same itinerary.
The fragmentation and limitations of what is on the market, the report suggest, poses a barrier to tapping the full potential and benefits of multimodal travel information and planning services.
Existing services, the report states, should be able to join up so that the most accurate traffic and travel data are shared and made available for all geographic areas and modes of transport.
The Way Forward - along six axes
The authors said that promotion of EU-wide multimodal travel information, planning and ticketing services, and better use and integration of transport modes and various mobility services, are interlinked objectives and require an integrated approach.
The report suggest a framework for action, structured along six axes:
Enabling fair and equal access to multimodal travel and traffic data;
Improving the availability of good quality multimodal travel and traffic data;
Interoperable, harmonised data formats and data exchange protocols;
Promoting the interconnection of existing services;
Facilitating efficient cooperation between stakeholders;
Showcasing the benefits of multimodal travel information, planning and ticketing services.
To overcome the current fragmentation, the report says, interoperability of existing services would need to be encouraged in a coordinated and effective way.
ITS In Your Pocket awards
As part of the opening ceremony of the The European ITS Congress & Exhibition, Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas will award prizes to the winners of the ITS in Your Pocket contest for mobile applications.
ITS in Your Pocket 2014 is a development competition providing an opportunity for companies, teams and individuals to learn more about intelligent traffic systems from the best experts in the field.
The winners were announced on June 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
The ITS in your pocket App Contest 2014 was organised by ITS Finland, ITS Factory, Demola Network and New Factory Ltd. with partnership from ERTICO, the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications and HERE.
On 11 May, the App contest receive 47 submissions from over 20 different European cities. Main topics included parking, travel planners, cycling, and many more.
The App 3 categories winners (10000 Euros) of this first App contest are:
In the category of Sustain urban mobility: PleaseCycle: Stravel, UK - for encouraging and motivating people to travel by bike and other sustainable travelling options.
In the category of Boost the use of multimodal transport: Calender42, Netherlands - for seamlessly integrating real-time up-to-date travel information within users' daily life.
In the category Out-of-the-box innovations: Ajelo, Finland - for proposing a solution for on-demand shared-ride services
The special AppCampus grant of 20000 Euros was awarded to OTRIP, France for “putting shared journeys at the forefront of the user experience ultimately changing how people plan and travel with friends”.
Find some of the pictures of this first day on the Congress Flickr account.
The shortlisted of the ITS in Your Pocket app contestants were:. http://www.itsineurope.com/its10/index.php/media-cat/news/16-10th-its-european-congress-helsinki/95-its-in-your-pocket-app-contest-finalists
1. BNV Mobility: Wild! Van de spits, the Netherlands
2. Hodos Media: Fleetfoot, United Kingdom
3. EIT ICT Labs Master School: OTRIP, France
4. Calendar42, the Netherlands
5. Doris – Danube River Information Services, Austria
6. Parkopedia: Parking In-Car, United Kingdom
7. PleaseCycle: Stravel, United Kingdom
8. Green Surfer, Finland
9. JOUL: ZenBus, France
10. Ajelo, Finland
Hermann Meyer, Chief Executive Officer, Ertico – ITS in Europe
Jacob Bangsgaard, Director-General, FIA
Bruno Simon, Senior Director, GoToMarket, HERE
Henna Virkkunen, Finnish Minister of Transport and Local Government.
Michel Labardin, Vice President, Urban Community of Bordeaux.