Trip Planning Systems

This measure was provided by INSTITUTE FOR TRANSPORT STUDIES (ITS) in 2014 under the CH4LLENGE project, financed by the European Commission.


Trip planning systems, or multi-modal travel information can incorporate a range of provision of information from simple descriptions of available travel options by different modes, possibly linked to maps indicating routes and to timetables, to interactive database systems enabling users to search specific information.  Increasing use of technology at stations, on public transport, and web access in homes and on mobile devices increases the opportunities travellers have to obtain information at points where it is convenient to them.  A theoretical assumption which has tended to be applied in thinking about information provision is that the information will enable (what are assumed to be) rational travellers to make optimum travel decisions (Lyons 2006).  Empirical studies suggest that habit will be a strong determinant of choice of travel mode; however information is also useful once modes have been decided. Further there is some potential for prompting mode shift by offering information about modes other than those for which the traveller has sought information. Finally, information provision can contribute to mitigating social exclusion by increasing understanding of means of accessing social and economic activities. However the value of information depends on whether it can be easily understood by users.   

Introduction, terminology and description

Trip planning systems, or multi-modal travel information, can incorporate a range of provision of information from simple descriptions of available travel options by different modes, possibly linked to maps indicating routes and to timetables, to interactive database systems enabling users to search specific information, in which the user can be provided with information including:

  • Timing of services to or from a given location and real time running information;
  • Timing and routing of services
  • Fare levels, and comparison of fares
  • Information on routes and expected journey times by private vehicle, possible combined with real time information on disruptions  
  • Information on cycle and pedestrian routes
  • Information on combining transport modes, possibly coupled with details of expected timings for different legs of the journey (for instance train 45 minutes; walk 8 minutes)
  • Services which offer alternative walking or cycling routes taking account of whether the user wishes to take the most direct route; the quietest route; the least polluted route – see for instance http://walkit.com/ .  

Increasing use of technology at stations, on public transport, and web access in homes and on mobile devices increases the opportunities travellers have to obtain information at points where it is convenient to them.   A number of publicly funded and private online trip planning systems are available.  Examples of publicly funded systems West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Metro) offer a web based trip planning system allowing travellers to specify origin, destination and intermediate points in West Yorkshire, and to specify whether they wish to travel by bus, coach or train. The site offers details of each part of a journey, showing approximate times, and has links to associated detail including public transport maps - http://www.wymetro.com/howtogetto/. Transport Direct is a web-based trip planning system covering Britain and funded by the Westminster, Welsh and Scottish Governments. Like the West Yorkshire system, it allows people to specify origin, destination and preferred travel mode, and allows comparison between modes, including comparison of carbon emissions for trips by different modes.   Privately funded systems, include that provided by Google, which again allows people to specify preferred mode, and presents representations of routes on its map, and where users specify bicycle, it offers information on terrain, cycle tracks and roads deemed to be cycle-friendly.  

Why introduce trip planning systems?

Trip planning systems cover a range of travel modes, and can incorporate diverse types of information and levels of detail, and it is difficult to give a common rationale for their introduction. Simple trip planning systems will often be offered by organisations and businesses who wish their visitors to be able to locate them. As a tool in transport planning, it is argued that information provision has tended to be considered a means of enabling (what are assumed to be) rational travellers to make optimum travel decisions (Lyons 2006). So, according to Lyons, the assumption is:

“if information about the true costs and benefits is revealed it is anticipated that travellers would choose the most cost effective option where ‘cost’ is seen to encompass factors including comfort, convenience, financial cost, journey duration and reliability (Ortuzar and Willumsen, 1994).” (Lyons 2006, p.201)

As Lyons notes in the 2006 paper, information provision can support effective use of roads, if drivers are informed about routing and congestion and as a result avoid unnecessarily long, inappropriate or congested routes where possible.

As is also discussed in conventional timetable and service information, empirical evidence suggests a more complex relation between information provision and travel behaviour than that suggested by the theoretical assumptions. Information on public transport services is found to be both used by and useful for people who are already considering travelling by public transport (Farag and Lyons 2010, 897). The level of use and the influence the information has varies according to socio-demographic factors (Farag and Lyons 2012, 82) and the extent to which the specific journey is unfamiliar to the passenger (Lyons 2006, p. 205). Significantly though, it is claimed that decisions about what mode of transport to use are strongly influenced by habit, and so “consulting information is influenced by propensity to consider using public transport rather than vice-versa as has hitherto been implicitly assumed by many involved in the provision of transport and information services” (Farag and Lyons 2010, p. 897). Kenyon and Lyons (2003, p. 1) suggest force of habit might be upset and some mode shift could occur if drivers are given information about other modes at the point at which they seek information on journeys, even if they have not asked about public transport options (2003, p. 1). As Lyons also notes, provision of travel information may contribute to mitigating social exclusion if it means that people become aware of possibilities of employment, services and so on (Lyons 2006, p.201). The value of information will depend on whether it is intelligible. On one hand this requires presentation and explanation in a form that can be easily understood. To mitigate social exclusion associated with lack of information about transport services, particular consideration may be given to providing information in alternative formats - for instance large print, braille, different languages, information accessible to people with dyslexia (Lamont et al. 2013 ).

Demand impacts

Responses and situations
Response Reduction in road traffic Expected in situations
Information on congestion on roads and  public transport may prompt people to alter travel time.
Information on congestion on roads and  public transport may prompt people to alter routes.
Information on alternatives may prompt people to alter destinations.
Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys.
Information on public transport services could help change habits of car use.
/ Information on public transport services could help change habits of car use, however removing uncertainty in journeys by road may increase these journeys.
/ Information on public transport may promote people to move closer to viable services; however  information on journeys by car may increase confidence about living in areas only accessible by car.
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Short and long run demand responses

Demand responses
Response - 1st year 2-4 years 5 years 10+ years
Information on congestion on roads and  public transport may prompt people to alter travel time needed.
  Information on congestion on roads and  public transport may prompt people to alter routes.
  Information on alternatives may prompt people to alter destinations.
  Information may improve ease of travelling.
  Information on public transport services could help change habits of car use.
  Information on public transport services could help change habits of car use, however removing uncertainty in journeys by road may increase these journeys. / / / /
  Information on public transport may promote people to move closer to viable services; however  information on journeys by car may increase confidence about living in areas only accessible by car. / / / /
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Supply impacts

If information about walking and cycling routes increased uptake of that mode, there may be some pressure to improve and increase facilities and routes for pedestrians and cyclists.  Conversely, if information improves ease of making journeys by car, and so increases journeys by car, then there may be some pressure to accommodate this.  To the extent that public transport service information encourages increased use of public transport as a shift from motor transport or other modes, the information can help create conditions which would encourage public transport operators to increase (or attempt to increase) supply of services. Further, to the extent that information prompts passengers to avoid peak services, or to make use of previously under-used services, the information might help sustain public transport services by improving their efficiency (see Lyons 2006).

Financing requirements

Finance for multi-modal trip planning could be supported by local authorities on the basis that information can contribute to social good by supporting social inclusion, and can help limit problems associated with motor traffic if it increases mode shift from motor vehicles to other modes (public transport and walking and cycling). Finance may also be provide by the operators, either being offset by increased revenue if passenger numbers increase or services run more efficiently, or costs can be funded through fare revenue. Private, third party, information providers.

For public transport:  Timetable and service running information is required by operators regardless of how they share this information with passengers. Provision of information to passengers will have associated costs in two major respects.  First is the personnel time required to consider what information should be presented, and how it can be presented in accessible forms. This is unlikely to be a one-off matter, and passenger feedback can be used to refine and develop information available. The second major type of cost is associated with the formats in which information is presented. This can include printed and electronic information involving personal and public screens. 

Private, third party, information providers may also offer services, although this could raise questions about ownership of information. There is scope for non-profit social initiatives to provide trip planning systems in order to meet social and community objectives.

Expected impact on key policy objectives

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

  Information on appropriate routing and congestion on roads and  public transport may encourage more efficient use of road space, walking and cycling routes, and public transport.
  / Information on non-private motor transport could help change habits of car use, and so limit damage to liveable streets associated with high car use. Information on routes for drivers could contribute to avoidance of congestion and use of inappropriate routes which are detrimental to liveable streets. Conversely trip planning information might induce use of inappropriate routes that drivers were previously unaware of.
  / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This will have harmful environmental impacts if motor vehicles, and possibly public transport use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits to environment.
  Information is one factor needed to overcome problems of accessibility to social and economic activities and opportunities. Its value may depend on its presentation and comprehensibility.
  / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This could increase risk of collisions if motor vehicle  use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling and public transport use at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits.
  Evidence on relationship between economic growth and transport is weak.
  Information provision may increase fare revenue and improve efficiency of services.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected impact on problems

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion

Information on appropriate routing and congestion on roads and  public transport may encourage more efficient use of road space, walking and cycling routes, and public transport.

Community impacts

/ Information on non-private motor transport could help change habits of car use, and so limit damage to liveable streets associated with high car use. Information on routes for drivers could contribute to avoidance of congestion and use of inappropriate routes which are detrimental to liveable streets. Conversely trip planning information might induce use of inappropriate routes that drivers were previously unaware of.
Environmental damage / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This will have harmful environmental impacts if motor vehicles, and possibly public transport use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits to environment.
Poor accessibility Information is one factor needed to overcome problems of accessibility to social and economic activities and opportunities. Information is only useful however where access is actually available.
Social and geographical disadvantage Information  can help reduce inaccessibility associated with lack of knowledge of how to make given journeys.
Accidents / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This could increase risk of collisions if motor vehicle  use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling and public transport use at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits.
Economic growth Evidence on relationship between economic growth and transport is weak.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Expected winners and losers

Winners and losers

Group

Winners/Losers

Comment

Large scale freight and commercial traffic

Information on appropriate routing and congestion on roads and  public transport may encourage more efficient use of road space, walking and cycling routes, and public transport, and this could reduce costs of congestion. Trip planning may have direct benefits to businesses who make use of it.

Small businesses

Information on appropriate routing and congestion on roads and  public transport may encourage more efficient use of road space, walking and cycling routes, and public transport, and this could reduce costs of congestion. Trip planning may have direct benefits to businesses who make use of it.

High income car-users

/ If information prompts mode shift from private motor vehicles to public transport then this may reduce road congestion and bring benefits to drivers. However information reducing uncertainty of journeys may encourage some car use.

Low income car-users with poor access to public transport

/ If information prompts mode shift from private motor vehicles to public transport then this may reduce road congestion and bring benefits to drivers. However information reducing uncertainty of journeys may encourage some car use.

All existing public transport users

For people who have decided to use public transport, information is useful in planning their journey.

People living adjacent to the area targeted

Not applicable.
Cyclists including children / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This could increase risk of collisions if motor vehicle  use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling and public transport use at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits.
People at higher risk of health problems exacerbated by poor air quality / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This will have harmful environmental impacts if motor vehicles, and possibly public transport use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits to environment.

People making high value, important journeys

Information on appropriate routing and congestion on roads and  public transport may encourage more efficient use of road space, walking and cycling routes, and public transport, and this could reduce time loss. Trip planning may have direct benefits to people who make use of it.
The average car user / If information prompts mode shift from private motor vehicles to public transport then this may reduce road congestion and bring benefits to drivers. However information reducing uncertainty of journeys may encourage some car use.
= Weakest possible benefit = Strongest possible positive benefit
= Weakest possible negative benefit = Strongest possible negative benefit
= Neither wins nor loses

Barriers to implementation

Scale of barriers
Barrier Scale Comment
Legal There may be questions of ownership of information.
Finance Some costs associated with development and providing services.
Governance There may be questions of cooperation required to share information.
Political acceptability None.
Public and stakeholder acceptability None.
Technical feasibility None. Technological advances bring new developments for trip planning services but trip planning does not depend on this.
= Minimal barrier = Most significant barrier

Kenyon and Lyons (2003) conducted a study in which travellers were provided with multi-modal information in order to examine its influence on decisions about travel. The authors presented a range of information relating to a journey that the travellers are already familiar with. The information covered different modes and included factors “ranging from simple financial cost and journey duration information to information incorporating comfort and convenience factors” (2003, p.1). The study found that “the majority of travellers do not consider their modal choice for the majority of journeys. Rather, this choice is automatic and habitual, based upon subconscious perceptions of the viability and desirability of travel by modes other than the dominant mode” (p.1). So availability of information by itself is unlikely to have substantial impact on mode shift. Nevertheless the authors suggested that offering information about different modes in response to a travellers’ request for information about one mode, may have some influence in challenging habits and so prompting mode shift:

“Results suggest that presentation of a number of modal options for a journey in response to a single enquiry could challenge previous perceptions of the utility of non-car modes, overcoming habitual and psychological barriers to consideration of alternative modes.”
(Kenyon and Lyons, 2003, p. 1).

A different empirical study questioning travellers in the Netherlands, conducted by Grotenhuisa, Wiegmansa and Rietveld (2007) considered what types of information travellers wished for at different points in planning and undertaking a journey. The authors began from the assumption that information can improve perceptions of the “quality of public transport” (p. 27) and that it can have a role in prompting mode shift. The study found that travellers favoured pre-trip information“when planning multimodal travel” and that they valued pre-trip information if it could save time in journey planning (p. 27)

Contribution to objectives
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
  Not considered.
  Offering information about different modes in response to a travellers’ request for information about one mode, may have some influence in challenging habits and so prompting mode shift away from motor vehicles.
  Offering information about different modes in response to a travellers’ request for information about one mode, may have some influence in challenging habits and so prompting mode shift away from motor vehicles.
  Not considered.
  Offering information about different modes in response to a travellers’ request for information about one mode, may have some influence in challenging habits and so prompting mode shift away from motor vehicles.
  Not considered.
  Not considered.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution
Contribution to objectives and problems
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
  Information on appropriate routing and congestion on roads and  public transport may encourage more efficient use of road space, walking and cycling routes, and public transport.
  / Information on non-private motor transport could help change habits of car use, and so limit damage to liveable streets associated with high car use. Information on routes for drivers could contribute to avoidance of congestion and use of inappropriate routes which are detrimental to liveable streets. Conversely trip planning information might induce use of inappropriate routes that drivers were previously unaware of.
  / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This will have harmful environmental impacts if motor vehicles, and possibly public transport use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits to environment.
  Information is one factor needed to overcome problems of accessibility to social and economic activities and opportunities. Its value may depend on its presentation and comprehensibility.
  Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This could increase risk of collisions if motor vehicle  use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling and public transport use at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits.
  Evidence on relationship between economic growth and transport is weak.
  Information provision may increase fare revenue and improve efficiency of services.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

 

Contribution to alleviation of key problems
Objective Scale of contribution Comment
Congestion Information on appropriate routing and congestion on roads and  public transport may encourage more efficient use of road space, walking and cycling routes, and public transport.
Community impacts / Information on non-private motor transport could help change habits of car use, and so limit damage to liveable streets associated with high car use. Information on routes for drivers could contribute to avoidance of congestion and use of inappropriate routes which are detrimental to liveable streets. Conversely trip planning information might induce use of inappropriate routes that drivers were previously unaware of.
Environmental damage / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This will have harmful environmental impacts if motor vehicles, and possibly public transport use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits to environment.
Poor accessibility Information is one factor needed to overcome problems of accessibility to social and economic activities and opportunities. Information is only useful however where access is actually available.
Social and geographical disadvantage Information  can help reduce inaccessibility associated with lack of knowledge of how to make given journeys.
Accidents / Reducing uncertainty about travelling may increase journeys. This could increase risk of collisions if motor vehicle  use increases. If information prompts greater walking and cycling and public transport use at expense of motor traffic there many be benefits.
Economic growth Evidence on relationship between economic growth and transport is weak.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Appropriate contexts

Appropriate area-types
Area type Suitability
City centre
Dense inner suburb
Medium density outer suburb
Less dense outer suburb
District centre
Corridor
Small town
Tourist town
= Least suitable area type = Most suitable area type

Adverse side-effects

If information offered is poor, for instance, sending motor vehicles on unsuitable routes, advertising services which are unreliable, or promoting walking or cyclising routes which are unsuitable, then there may be adverse effects for travellers and/or those living on the unsuitable routes. If information is not poor then the opposite impacts might be expected.

Lamont, D., Kenyon, S. and Lyons, G. (2013) Dyslexia and mobility related social exclusion: the role of travel information. Journal of Transport Geography, 26. pp. 147-157.

Farag, S. and Lyons, G. (2010). Explaining public transport information use when a car is available: Attitude theory empirically investigated. Transportation, 37(6), 897-913.

Farag S., and Lyons, G., (2012) To use or not to use? An empirical study of pre-trip public transport information for business and leisure trips and comparison with car travel, Transport Policy 20, 82–92

Grotenhuisa, J-W., Wiegmansa, B. W., Rietveld, P, (2007) The desired quality of integrated multimodal travel information in public transport: Customer needs for time and effort savings Transport Policy 14, 27–38

Kenyon, S. and Lyons, G. (2003) The value of integrated multimodal traveller information and its potential contribution to modal change. Transportation Research Part F Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 6 (1). pp. 1-21.

Lamont, D., Kenyon, S. and Lyons, G. (2013) Dyslexia and mobility related social exclusion: the role of travel information. Journal of Transport Geography, 26. pp. 147-157

Lyons, G. (2006) The role of information in decision making with regard to travel. IEE Proceedings Intelligent Transport Systems, 153 (2). pp. 199-212.

Lyons, G., Avineri, E., Farag, S. and Harman, R. (2007) Strategic Review of Travel Information Research: Final report to the Department for Transport for contract TDT/149 (R201)

Ortuzar, J. de D., and Willumsen, L. G.: ‘Modelling transport’ (Wiley, 1994).

SEU (2003)  ‘Making the connections: final report on transport and social exclusion’ (Social Exclusion Unit)