Real time drama resolved

This might be a hypothetical scenario, but QBIC delegates heard how real time ‘dramas’ can be avoided with ‘real time’ passenger info

Real time drama resolved
Real time drama resolved

By Sean Muir | April 5, 2012

Here’s a hypothetical situation that could be real: A three-vehicle crash causes bumper-to-bumper traffic on a main road, delaying local bus services by an hour.

The service provider is electronically notified about the delay.

The service dispatch team alerts the driver to take an alternative route.

Meanwhile, Barry is about to leave home to catch a bus to work. But before Barry steps out the front gate, he checks his smartphone to see if his bus is running on time.

His phone shows him the bus is delayed by 30 minutes and will not be passing his usual bus stop.

Barry calls his work to say he will be late.

Then he walks back inside the house and finishes a cup of coffee he didn’t think he had time for.

Of course, Barry and his coffee don’t exist.

But the real-time information systems and smartphone technology that allowed Barry to finish the all-important pre-work coffee in the above anecdote do exist, and are providing operators with exciting new opportunities to improve services.

According to Bacchus Management Systems Consultant Mark Woodhead, smartphone technology can not only increase convenience for passengers, but can also give them a sense of control and empowerment.

During a presentation on real-time technology at the recent QBIC Conference on the Gold Coast, Woodhead said 37 percent of Australians currently used smartphones.

According to Woodhead, the number of users is growing fast, with up to 18.5 million Australians predicted to have smartphones by 2015.

"This is an incredible leap in our use of technology," Woodhead says.

"And what it shows us is we should be thinking about other ways of delivering real-time information."

Although real-time Information systems have been in use in public transport since the 1970s, Woodhouse says it is only recently that new technology, such as smartphones, has allowed the real-time systems to become more customer focussed.

"With the improvement of technology, including GPS and mobile communication, the game has changed somewhat," Woodhead says.

However, he says the implementation of real-time information systems is still lagging.

"But there are some upsides to these delays in implementation," Woodhead says.

"We can use a targeted approach in using leading-edge technology that provides the best returns.

"The solutions deployed in Europe and Asia and other high density cities may not be the best approach in Australia."

Woodhead says if properly implemented, real-time information systems will help Australian operators to plan realistic services, reduce operating costs, and most importantly, inform the public of their transport options.

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