From the agency’s side, trip information involves collecting details from multiple service providers and enabling that information to be accessed through one platform. From the rider’s side, trip information enables them to confirm and evaluate all their transportation options and answer the questions below.
What are my travel options?
The most fundamental type of trip information involves explaining transportation options to a user. These options can be shared by call center staff or be provided through a directory that lists each transportation agency along with their contact information, schedules, fares, service details, application and eligibility determination processes (if any), and other relevant information. Directories can be accessed in different formats:
- A hard copy directory that can be downloaded from a website or read online
- A dynamic online listing, which often allows users to filter and sort the provider list according to operational characteristics (e.g., service area, service days/hours, accessibility features, rider eligibility criteria)
Examples of systems listing provider options:
How do I get there?
The next level of trip information is itinerary or trip planning. An itinerary planner enables the user to plug in the specifics of the trip they desire to take, such as origin, destination, day, time, preferred modes, preferred cost, and other information. This information gets compared with service details, enabling the results to be tailored according to trip specifics down to the minute. The result is a trip itinerary or multiple itineraries, with step-by-step instructions to navigate the trip.
Phone-based services can benefit from itinerary planners. In the process of addressing a user’s needs during a call, the call center staff can input trip details into the itinerary planner and share the results; alternatively, an itinerary planner link could be shared with the user.
Along with trip itinerary planning details, the user can access relevant application and eligibility determination processes (if any) as well as details for next steps. Next steps for users of fixed-route services may involve linking to information on fares, parking, etc. Next steps for demand-response services will include how to contact the provider directly to book a trip and eligibility information (if any) for that service. An itinerary planner is helpful as a stand-alone One-Call/One-Click system, but it also provides a base for trip booking. For example, if a user sees an itinerary they prefer for a demand-response trip, the system could have a “book” button next to it to facilitate a connection between the trip itinerary and trip booking.
Examples of systems with itinerary planning:
Where's my ride?
Real-time information “means any information available to transit providers or customers about the current status of vehicles, including approximate locations and predictive arrival times.” Most real-time information relies on automatic vehicle location (AVL) and global positioning system (GPS) technology to estimate approximate vehicle arrival times. Riders can access real-time information through dynamic signs at bus stops and stations, or through the Internet at home or on smartphones. Some agencies have built real-time information into their itinerary planning to improve the accuracy of their route planning.
Examples of systems with real-time information:
Related resources from the NCMM Knowledge Center:
“This manual provides a reference for planning and designing a Transportation Management Coordination Center using intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and other technologies