Improving Turku’s bus network through an innovative ITS (Finland)

By News Editor / Updated: 25 Aug 2015

Turku wants to realise its vision as a city of walking, cycling and public transport. It has set ambitious targets, including the significant reduction of emissions, and has a broad mix of activities planned to meet them.

In late 2013 Turku began collaborating with a global firm that develops intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to fit public transport vehicles with innovative on-board computers and ticketing systems.

The vehicles would feed information about traffic conditions and problems, reducing waiting times and updating customers with new information quickly – thus enhancing intermodal transport in the city. Turku has now installed this system on hundreds of its buses.


Turku, a city of 180 000 people, is Finland’s fifth-largest city. It is currently planning to develop two new districts, Skanssi and Castle Town, and has also plans to modernise its urban mobility.  The city wants to expand its bus network and lay the foundations for the possible redevelopment of its tram network.

Turku aims to increase the quantity of public transport by 2 per cent a year between 2010 and 2030 - in otherwords, 24 per cent greater than in 2009. The city is also aiming for a 50 per cent increase in bicycle use per inhabitant (compared to 2006) by 2035.

Modal split data from 2008 (the most recently available) shows that 30 per cent of all journeys were made by foot; 13 per cent by bike; 9 per cent by public transport; and 48 per cent by car. Turku has a ratio of 453 cars per 1 000 people – close to the average in Finnish cities.

Around 25 million journeys – on average around 100 000 a working-day - take place in Turku per year, on a network that includes 300 buses spread between seven bus operators. The city has about 2 000 bus stops.

In action 

Turku’s local public transport system, one of most modern and innovative in Finland, last year began undergoing further development. In July 2014 new regional public transport was launched covering six municipalities with a total of 280 000 people.

As part of this, the transport authorities in Turku expanded and modernised the bus network . Turku chose a new state-of-the-art solution to control it's local public transport: an integrated telematics, passenger information and electronic fare collection system from INIT, a supplier of ITS and electronic ticketing systems for public transport. The contract was worth over € 4m.

The system involves three technological innovations. The first is a terminal with a large touch-screen that takes care of the ticketing and control functions within the vehicle and communicates with the head office – important to ensure that passengers get reliable realtime information on all channels, such as displays, over the Internet and on smartphones. The technology includes a fast thermo ticket-printer.

The terminal also features an integrated proximity module for contactless smart cards. In autumn 2015 Turku will introduce a barcode scanners that read coded tickets stored on paper or on mobile phones. A self-service on-board ticketing machine allows passengers to quickly get onto vehicles quickly and select an appropriate ticket for purchase or swipe their smartcard or barcode tickets.

The new ticketing system will be managed at a central location by a background software system, which organises the various fares, serves contract customers, manages the accounts belonging to the various sales offices and handles the clearing of payments.

An online validation server processes all account transactions providing accurate, split-second revenue processing, while at the same time protecting individual agency data and fare structures.


The innovative software has now been implemented in a total of 300 buses in Turku. The key achievement of this technology is the ID-based ticketing, enabling new ticket products for travellers. Turku previously only had two period cards (30 and 90 days). With this new system, Turku will launch a new ticketing possibility in September 2015 allowing customers to a wider range of ticketing options – anything from 10 to 235 days.

Challenges, opportunities and transferability 

‘ID-based ticketing is something very new at the moment,’ said Seppo Kemppainen from the City of Turku. ‘There are no finished solutions in the market so we had to configure everything from scratch, which took a lot of time and resources.’

Thanks to the software’s open architecture, one of the outstanding features of INIT's solution for Turku is that it can be closely integrated with those of other transport companies (known as interoperability) and modes of transport (intermodality).

Its standardised interfaces can be used to transfer important data between systems while maintaining the confidentiality of each company's data at all times. This is particularly important with regard to fare collection. Another advantage is modularity, enabling functions to be added at a later date.

The realtime information about traffic collected by the system on the position and condition of individual vehicles allows transport companies to react quickly to unforeseen circumstances or breakdowns. This helps increase efficiency in the deployment of vehicles as well as improve punctuality.

It includes fare capping which automatically offers travelers the lowest possible fare. The software's interoperability will allow it to work with neighbouring cities and throughout the surrounding service area.

In Depth 

Image copyright: INIT

Traffic and demand management
Seppo Kemppainen
News Editor
04 Aug 2015
25 Aug 2015