A low-cost Hard-tech Traffic Information Solution

Presents

Around 200 million trips are taken on Movia’s buses every year. With about 1,400 buses and 14,000 stops, Movia makes up a large part of the streetscape and has its place in the public transport and in our consciousness in Copenhagen, Zealand and Lolland-Falster.

At Movia Public Transport – Denmark’s largest mobility company – we aim to develop and manage the best possible, digital transit information through physical screens and countdown modules at bus stops, through screens and loudspeakers in the busses and through services available on smartphones – for example the Rejseplan app.

We want to offer our customers the kind of precise and digital information that we know they want to see at the bus stops. Good and accurate information makes it easier to be a user of public transportation, and it helps to get customers to use the bus again and again. This leads to both less congestion and greater accessibility and it also helps the environment.

Movia covers all of eastern Denmark and cooperates with the transport companies in the rest of the country. Therefore, the right information solutions can potentially be extended to other transportation companies across the country.

The question is, how can we develop a cheap and smartphone independent solution for reporting transportation information so that everyone waiting at a bus stop can receive clear, timely and precise information about when the bus departs?

 Keywords Mechanical Engineering, IoT, Mechatronics, Information Design, Software and Data Science.  

Focus Area

When customers wait at a bus stop, they want to know exactly when the bus is departing.
If they have a smartphone, they can look it up themselves – if they don’t, they can’t. But common to all is that they want to have precise and easy to understand information – and Movia wants to deliver this. 

We have digital screens and displays at about 2,000 bus stops. The screens show departure times based on real time (prognosis based on received position data from the busses), which we continually work on to make even better. Digital traffic information can, in addition to the projected arrival time (a better timing of the next bus departure than the travel plan) also take into account cancellations, diverted traffic, etc.

The solutions we use today – countdown modules for the next departure and different types of screens with a display of departure times – cost so much, however, that they will never be set up at all 14,000 bus stops. The municipalities pay for countdown modules and screens, with prices from nearly DKK 20,000 and upwards, and with between 200 and 1,000 bus stops per municipality, the unit price needs to be significantly lower before we can add the digital information to all bus stops.

Challenge 

Find a digital hard-tech low cost solution for our 14,000 bus stops that brings the exact information needed to make transport transparent and convenient for all our user-groups – while taking into account that not all passengers have the latest mobile technology devices and that busses and their infrastructure should include all citizens.   

Make a proof-of-concept and illustrate which components and technologies could be integrated and developed to meet the criteria listed.  

Describe the operating system connected to the solution. How is it possible to maintain the system, and is it possible to ensure that spare parts are available? 

Considerations

The following should be considered:

  • The bus stop may be either in a city, where there is light and shelter – or in the countryside where it can be dark and wet. 
  • The solution should be weather resistant (temperature, water and dust) 
  • The power source for the solution should be carefully considered, since there may not be access to dedicated power at the bus stops. Batteries are often used and the requirement then is that they should last for years (ideally, 5 years) before they need to be replaced.
  • Movia’s customers come in all sizes and age groups. So the solution should ideally be usable by anyone, regardless of age, height, language, vision or hearing abilities.
  • When developing the solution, thought should also be given to ongoing operations and maintenance that should be kept to as low a level as possible.
 

These three solutions are remarkably different in their ways of providing the information:

  • Beacons (mounted at the bus stop and connecting to a mobile telephone nearby with the Rejseplan app installed. The app looks up departure times for the users) 
  • A countdown module (shows the next departure at the bus stop on a screen)
  • The Rejseplan app (the user must actively look up the departure times and with the help of the app) 
  • The text message service (the user sends a text message to 1250 with, for example the bus stop name and line, and gets the next departure back)

Can we find inspiration in other industries or markets? Can we benefit from international trends in public city traffic information?    

Challenge us and the public transportation sector and current status-quo with the solutions that are out there. We encourage all ideas, creative and futuristic, as well as short-term ready to market solutions. Help us improve our implementation plan.    

Links/access

14,000 bus stops – towns – across the country

Inspiration:

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