Passengers usually consider the difficulty in planning their trips to be a barrier to using Public Transport. The City of Porto has therefore developed a support decision tool that would help people to plan and optimize their Public Transport trips, based on real-time information of different operators.
Background & Objectives
Until this scheme started, there was no service available in Porto that allowed people to find comprehensive information on all available means of transportation. As it was assumed that provision of such a service would increase the use of Public Transport, the City of Porto decided to implement it in the course of the CIVITAS Elan project. The objective was to provide integrated real-time information of several available public transport operators as well as the development of an innovative tool called Information for Mobility Support (IMS). The requirement for the system was to allow passengers to select the best combination of transportation from their place of departure to their destination, in real time. The project involved the cooperation of the private company OPT, responsible for technical research and development, two public transport companies – STCP and Metro do Porto – and 13 private transport companies associated with ANTROP.
The task was to develop a system that would allow passengers to optimize their trip and to give them the opportunity to choose the best option for them in real time, before and during their journey. It emerged that the best way to provide such a system was to develop two different products. These were Information Boards in the form of LCD displays and a mobile application, subsequently called MOVE-ME.
In the first stage of the project implementation, the LCD displays were installed in public spaces in the Asprela area, such as at the Sao Joao Hospital and Medical Faculty of Porto. The panels display maps of the area, timetables, public transport lines available, main stops, destinations and waiting times for the next service based on real-time information. Data for a total of 16 operators is available on these panels.
At the second stage of the project, Porto started the research and development of a dynamic mobile application – MOVE-ME; this phase of the project was the most challenging and demanding. It required the development of a high-performance system with an intuitive user interface for mobile and other devices. It was possible to launch MOVE-ME in February 2012 and it immediately received a great deal of positive feedback from the users. In September 2012 the mobile mobility information system also received the CIVITAS Award for Technical Innovation.
The IMS has clearly accomplished its main objective to provide passengers with improved transport information by gathering data from 16 different Public Transport operators in a single platform and centralizing its functionalities in user needs. In doing so, it has also promoted public transport in Porto. The mobile application, MOVE-ME, in particular, received excellent feedback from the users and a clear statement from the public that they would even be willing to pay for such a service should continuation after the project be uncertain. The two products have already resulted in new projects in other Portuguese cities.