Intermodal traveller information services

Martin Böhm of AustriaTech explains In-Time – an intelligent and efficient travel management system for Europe

It is time to overcome traditional navigation systems and services by introducing multimodal information for the single traveller. Up to now navigation systems have provided the best route from origin to destination by using mainly static road information, sometimes enhanced by dynamic information on accidents or incidents for the main arterial road-network by using RDS-TMC (Radio-Data-System – Traffic Message Channel). But is this approach sufficient? Wouldn’t it be of interest for the single traveller to get, in the case of incidents for example, alternative routes proposed not by including only the road network but also taking other modes into account?
In times of social networks like Facebook, Linked-In, etc. the single citizen expects to receive real-time and up-to-date information, even location based, everywhere and all the time. He wants to get the possibility to decide by himself about different possibilities and is looking for the best possible support. And for travel activities this of course includes real time information about all transport modes.
The European project In-Time (Intelligent and efficient travel management for European cities), co-funded by the European Commission, will provide this information for single cities within Europe. The partner cities (Brno, Bucharest, Florence, Munich, Oslo, and Vienna) have committed themselves to providing Real-time Traffic and Travel Information (RTTI) for all transport modes within the single cities to all travelers to optimise journeys and energy efficiency. It is expected that such info-mobility services will contribute to a seamless transition between public and private transport and between different transport modes. These systems will facilitate inter-modal changes, thus attracting travellers to less energy consuming transport modes.

Achieving travel benefits

The fundamental concept and goal of In-Time is to pilot and validate – in terms of transport benefits, user acceptance and market potentials – a pan-European approach to RTTI service provision based on an open, standardised service oriented infrastructure and business-to-business (B2B) services that will facilitate access to urban traffic related data, RTTI service provision and interoperability by Traffic Information Service Providers (TISP). The goal of In-Time is to demonstrate how the use of the same interoperable service infrastructure’s seamless and interoperable RTTI services can be provided by TISPs and can be used by European travellers using their own routing devices.
The central part of the In-Time concept is the interoperable and multimodal Regional Data/Service Server (RDSS), a service-oriented middleware infrastructure providing a standardised B2B interface and a number of data/services covering individual traffic, public transport, weather, location based services, inter-modal transport planning. The In-Time RDSS enables the operation of end-user applications – web based business-to-customer (B2C) applications and services – as well as the B2B access via the standardised interface and end-user service provision by European TISPs. The In-Time RDSS needs to be set up in all regions to ensure the easy access of real-time multimodal traffic data for external TISPs (see figure 1). This model ensures the easy access to all urban traffic related data within one region resulting in the distribution to the end-users via several information channels and in parallel enhancing user acceptance.
The key issue to ensure seamless intermodal RTTI services for the single traveller is the commitment of all transport operators within cities, regions, or countries to contribute to the RDSS and to give access to their real-time travel related data. Only this approach has the potential to ensure multi-modal services by taking all kinds of transport into account.

Integrated information
The RDSS is the result of the process of selection, harmonisation and integration of existing standards. It is the central supporting pillar of the Technical Specification and ensures that every end-user service can understand and interpret the Data and Services available at the infrastructure operator side. The harmonisation and integration process resulted in a model compliant with the ISO 19100 series of intermodal geo-standards. Therefore it can be ensured that the In-Time model is in agreement with the data specifications of the Spatial Data Infrastructure in Europe, INSPIRE.
Distributing interoperable intermodal RTTI services via an accepted and proved interface to the single traveller offered by well known and used interfaces is a key point for the success of the In-Time solution. A second key point is with the agreed data quality and data content that will be accessible for the end-user service generation. Only with a high data quality will user acceptance increase and modal shifts that result in reduced energy consumption by the end-users be performed. Therefore it is crucial that the single infrastructure operators are committed to delivering a similar content with a similar quality.
Road operators within the regions are committed to delivering individual road related traffic data that cover static road network data, dynamic traffic flow data (collected via FCD or detection loops), and dynamic traffic messages. These data include travel relevant traffic signs including variable message sign information (e.g. temporary turn restrictions or variable speed limitations), roadwork information, and information about accidents, incidents, congestions, and wrong way drivers. Additionally, information about parking garages and park and ride facilities is provided, optional and dynamic parking information (capacity/used of parking garages) can be provided. All data will come from the road infrastructure operators and traffic management facilities within the single region.

Use in public transport
Public transport (PT) operators will provide public transport data covering all public transport modes (bus, train, underground, tram, and plane). The data and services provided to the TISPS cover static public transport data like public transport time tables and information about the location of the single stops and stations, as well as dynamic information on the real timetable deviations. This dynamic information is especially important to ensure connectivity between the individual modes and to reduce waiting times.
Regional traffic management operators have also the possibility to provide special data for cycling and walking. Thus it is foreseen that cycling-routes will be indicated as well as footways that are not along the road network (e.g. in city parks, woodlands, pedestrian bridges or tunnels). Such data will ensure a high quality door-to-door routing of the single traveller by also including walking routes and special services like bike-and-ride (a combination of cycling and using PT) in the In-Time package.
Location based service data are provided by event operators and weather data service providers. These in most cases private operators will have the possibility of providing data that might have an impact on traveller behaviour and also on the trip planning.

Information on the go
In-Time services will be provided by a TISP to the client, either via a computer, or via a navigational device/handheld/mobile phone. The aim of In-Time is that the customer gets full information about his planned journey, either in form of pre-information, if pre-planning the trip, or in form of travel information up-dates to his navigational device, handheld, or mobile phone, when already travelling on the route. Consequently the end-user services can be divided into two major groups.
E-services, provided by the TISPs, will influence on-trip travel behaviour by optimising journeys taking the energy consumption into account. The single traveller will be guided along his journey by using his customised navigation device, and he will receive up-dated information if the traffic situation ahead changes. E-services have the potential to avoid congestion and bottlenecks, to select alternative routes and/or alternative transport modes. One key factor is that the user needs to be used to the device he uses – therefore these services will be available via already existing devices provided by existing TISPs.
Web based interoperable and intermodal pre-trip information, which will mainly be provided by the single regional operators, has the potential to influence travel behavior in the trip planning stage by taking environmental aspects into account. Here the traveller will enter his journey route, i.e. origin-destination, day and time of travel, preferred means of transport etc. into an input mask on the website, and he will receive proposals of travel times and routes as well as alternatives. The typical users are persons that are making an urban trip, planning in the short term.

Project impact
The long-term impacts of the In-Time project will be generated in the four following categories: traffic impacts, environmental impacts, economy impacts and socioeconomic impacts on the society as a whole.
Concerning the traffic impacts, it is expected that In-Time services will strongly contribute to the EU objectives of improved safety, energy efficiency, emissions reduction, comfort and sustainability of transport. The efficiency of urban transport systems will be significantly improved with the adoption of In-Time piloted end-products, not only because In-Time is expected to considerably improve travel times but also due to the effect of In-Time on traffic homogenisation and congestion prevention in individual road traffic and by making modal shifts and intermodal journeys more attractive. This will have a significant impact on travel times and fuel consumption. In-Time will help to increase travel safety through the expected reduction in road-congestion – drivers’ stress due to congestion, stop-and-go traffic and related delays contributes to the increased accident risks. Finally, travel information provided to the drivers will allow them to have actual door-to-door travel information by accessing extra information such as public transport timetables, real-time public transport information, information about accidents/incidents/road works including deviations, parking systems and vacancies, etc.
In-Time will also have a positive impact on new targets for efficiency and environmental friendliness in the transport sector through new mobility services. The mentioned changes in the mobility behaviour of the single traveller will decrease the negative impacts of road traffic on the environment. Here it needs to be stated that big changes in mobility behaviour are not expected, but at least a positive effect will be shown. In this context the term “environment” means both the road network and natural environment. There will be less congestion on the road network, leading to enhanced traffic safety.
The In-Time concept will be implemented and piloted in six European cities: Bucharest, Brno, Florence, Munich, Oslo, and Vienna. This ensures that in the first stage potentially more than eight million inhabitants will have the possibility to benefit from the interoperable and multimodal RTTI services. These In-Time six pilot sites form a strong team of public authorities, willing to invest in the extension of publicly provided traffic information services. They will discuss and define the interfaces to regional integrated traffic data and make these interface specifications publicly available. This is a strong motivation for other cities and authorities to adapt this model and learn from the experiences gained in the In-Time pilot areas.

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