28 July 2011

Simon wants your thoughts on real time bus information

| johnboy
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Simon Corbell has announced that despite having already committed to spending $12 million (pretty soon it adds up to real money) on a real time bus information system he’s now open to a public consultation over what it should be doing.

“The recent announcement of the successful tenderer for the first stage of this project has generated a lot of interest and the ACT Government is consulting with the community and key stakeholders to ensure that the system meets the needs of all commuters.

“I will also meet with a group of ANU students who have been working in this field to ensure their views are being taken into account and see how they can be involved in the project.”

A real time passenger information system will see digital displays installed at major bus stations and other selected bus stops and will also provide the community with instant information via the internet, mobile phones, touch screen displays and on bus visual and audio displays.

Apparently a survey will appear at some point on the Transport for Canberra website.

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fabforty said :

I think ACTION needs to first manage to get the basics sorted.

Actually turning up would be a good start. Then once they manage that, they could learn how to stop and pick up passengers.

Hint to Action: if it is a bus stop you normally stop at, and you have only a couple of passengers on board, and there are people waving you down (increasingly frantically), then the usual practice is to stop at the place marked as a bus stop (a shelter is a give away usually) and pick up those passengers. What you don’t do is change lanes to get as far away as possible and drive on past.


Thank you for your participation in the focus groups and for stating the need for the most basic of needs (in my view) a journey planner. If they need to speak to someone who is very passionate about it drop me a line. I have been bothering the Chief Ministers office and Action about it for a long time.

Gungahlin Al10:01 am 31 Jul 11

I think I’m in the “just bloody do it” category. And don’t try to reinvent it – there are plenty of existing examples working fine out there to be able to pick and choose something that is proven.

And on the journey planner function, I’ve previously mentioned the Queensland Translink service, as an example of just how good a journey planner website can be. Check it out: http://translink.com.au/ Why don’t we just buy it?

Why do we need a real time system to tell us what we already know? That there is a bus coming, if you’re lucky. It will either run 10 minutes early and you will miss it, run 15 minutes late and you’ll be late, or be packed and drive right on by. The bus will take the most indirect route possible resulting in a journey of over an hour for a trip that would normally take about 15 to 20 minutes, stopping at the obligatory bus stop every 500m or so.

The Government should be investing the money in some proper planning to design a decent network, a real time system is not going to make any difference when we have a useless bus network. Decent bus network first, real time information second.

I think ACTION needs to first manage to get the basics sorted. My route still has buses which are ancient, dirty and overcrowded.

I have seen dozens of people miss their stops because they were jammed in so tight they couldn’t get off.

I don’t care about apps or real-time bus information. I just want a seat !

patrick_keogh4:11 pm 30 Jul 11

I was a participant in one of the focus group events that are also part of the consultation process. The consultants took it fairly seriously, outlined the conceptual plan and engaged with the group to gather input. Here are some things I took away from the session:

– As some of you will recall I have been a fairly vocal advocate on the RiotACT of the need for an integrated journey planner facility. I have engaged with ACTION, the minister, all three political parties and the department over a period of several years with letters, email, phone calls, meetings etc.The good news is that the integrated journey planner will be available via Google Maps VERY SOON. Days or weeks. No shit. It will allow you to plan a journey using car or on foot (the current capability), by bicycle and/or bus (new capability). I know, I know, it is still a promise and hasn’t happened yet but I am optimistic.

– The real time bus information system will provide a minute by minute update on where the bus is and how full it is (as well as other things like engine status, speed etc.) so you will be able to use a web application to watch the bus coming (or going) and judge if it will skip your stop because it is full. This will be updated minute by minute.

– You will also be able to see whether the bus is wheelchair-friendly and whether it has bike racks.

– They are struggling with whether the data can include how many of the the bike racks are full but I vigorously contributed that a bus with a full bike rack is equivalent to a bus with no bike rack from the customer’s perspective so they are thinking about it.

– The data will be “open” so people can write Android or IOS apps (or whatever is flavour of the month then) to display this info.

– There will also be an SMS service (you SMS the bus stop number and it will SMS back which buses are due soon and at what time).

– There will be visual displays in some locations, probably with interchanges being a priority. This will be extensible (we discussed putting displays inside the shopping malls for example), and maybe even just at normal bus stops, depending on budget and priorities.

If you have any specific questions I may be able to recall additional detail.

AlpineViper I agree that an app with timetables is needed, but I think the app should go further than just providing timetables to wade through.

Every capital city I lived in (besides Canberrra) over the past 10 years (both here and overseas) had online public transport journey planners.

These journey planners allow users to enter the address they are traveling from and to, the journey planner then lists the time traveler needs to depart from their location to walk to the bus stop/station, the route number, bus departure time, transfers to other services/routes, arrival times, alternative/later/earlier journeys, the total cost of the journey and links to any bookable services the user can pay for/ book online and of course links to real time transport info.

Around two years ago I received an email reply from Mr Stanhope advising a Canberra journey planner was available on Google Maps (but of course it isn’t), unfortunately at a later date I deleted the email in disgust. I really wish I had kept it!

I look after teenagers who have disabilities/problems, an online journey planner would be perfect to foster independance and mobility, most give up trying to patch journeys together from cumbersome timetables and either ask me for a lift (I say no more often than yes as promoting independance is the aim) and they then just stand at the bus stop until a bus eventually comes along. Most will be elligible for a drivers licence when they are older and that means once they save enough money, one more car on Canberras roads due to a poor bus service/transport information.

I will do the survey and put my two cents worth in yet again.

If all the busses are now GPS enabled – Can we get some mobile phone apps that show their location in real time on google maps? Possibly with filters to only show the bus numbers one is interested in?

Heck If I was a programmer I’d look at making it myself.

Come to think of it, just having an official Action Bus app with timetables AT ALL would be a good start.

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