Warning app

Commuters will be able to give others the heads up on the real condition of public transport

Is your bus full of rowdy students or is the air-conditioning failing on the commute home?

Commuters will now be able to warn other public transport users about problems on buses or trains with the development of a new app, RateIT.

The app will allow passenger to warn each other of problems in real time and is being developed by researchers at the University of Sydney.

Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) Lecturer Claudine Moutou says the app will allow passengers to exchange information about issues such as crowding, comfort and safety.

"Through the app, travellers can warn each other that a particular bus is full, there are rowdy students on board or the air conditioning has failed," she says.

"Importantly, transport operators will be linked into the system and will be able respond to passenger needs in real time."

For example, using information supplied by passengers via RateIT, a bus operator can respond to delays on the rail network, gauge the need for additional services and inform travellers accordingly.

The researchers say they project is crucial in an environment where public transport operators are under pressure to provide better services to more people for less money.

 "Data collected in the RateIT app will help us to answers important questions about passenger expectations and how long they will tolerate a less than perfect service," says Moutou.

Computer-human interaction experts Judy Kay and Robert Kummerfeld will also be working on the app with a number of IT students.

They expect to trial the app towards the end of the year on buses belonging to Sydney -based operator Forest Coach Lines.

"Our project combines research, technology and operational knowledge in an effort to get communities more engaged in the quality of their transport services and tell us how to make them better," says Moutou.

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