Blog post:

Passenger information: it’s a matter of trust

The Trapeze Team | June 25, 2015

Tags: Passenger info |

When first arriving in a new town or city – be it foreign or domestic – it’s easy to empathise with the feeling of uncertainty when it comes to navigating our new locality, and deciphering relevant local transport information that can help us get from A to B.

How many times have you arrived at a location and found yourself asking one or all of the following:

  • Which bus do I need?
  • Where do I find it?
  • Which stops do I need?
  • What ticket should I buy, and how much will it cost?

The information we are looking for in this situation – and the way we go about accessing it – is naturally very different to what we would need when planning a journey or researching relevant travel information in our local area.

In part, this comes down to what Paul Everson discussed in his detailed article about the myriad of different passenger ‘types’ that frequent our public transport networks; and the different information requirements each of these different travellers have. Specifically, in this situation we are “inexperienced travellers”: meaning we need all the help and information we can get.

What’s in a name?

So think of our initial scenario: imagine those moments when first trying to navigate an unfamiliar transport system, and where you might first look to access necessary information. The most natural course of action may be to look to sources that we know and trust: travel information offices perhaps – or Google search results.

The key word here is ‘trust’; and it’s important to recognise the role played by branding in establishing trustworthy names that passengers – regular or irregular; confident or unconfident; tech savvy or no – will first turn to when looking to access the travel information they need.

To illustrate this point, look to London. There are thousands of different travel apps and sites available to London transport users, all purporting to provide accurate real-time information and quality journey planning services.

Despite this, the most popular source of travel information in the capital appears to be Transport for London (TfL); even though the organisation doesn’t offer transport users any form of app (though it does provide data to support over 200 apps).

Indeed, in a blog post, Phil Young – head of online transport at TfL – explained “despite the massive growth in apps, last year we served over 70 million unique users [on our website], with around 1.2 billion page views in 250 million visits – more than ever before” and noted “the number of people visiting our website continues to increase year on year”.

The reason for this is clear: TfL is seen as a more trustworthy source of information than the thousands of lookalike apps available to users because it has an established and respected brand name.

So how do local authorities and operators ensure they, like TfL, establish their name as a trustworthy source of information for all types of passengers and all types of information requirements?

Trust, of course, is earned – which means passenger information has to be consistently accurate and reliable; meeting the varying needs of all users – be they commuters or one time passengers or tourists.

Because of this, it is vital to partner with developers of passenger information technology – journey planning and RTPI tools, including on-street displays, apps and mobile websites – that consistently meet the requirements of all passengers: and thus build the trust that is so important in creating long-lasting, reciprocally beneficial relationships with passengers.

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The Trapeze Team are here to bring you news and information from Trapeze Group (UK) and the public transportation industry.

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