The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis on which Switzerland's traffic problems might be solved, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs. The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy. Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules:
- A Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects
- B Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects
- C Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments
- D Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites
- E Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts
- F Technologies: Potentials and Impacts
- M Materials
- S Synthesis Projects
- Description of the request of integrated customer information systems in public transport.
- Description of potential and limitations of modern customer information systems.
- Recomandations for the construction and implementation of modern customer information systems.
From the point of view of (potential) public transport customers, the best possible customer information system would provide comprehensive, up-to-date and reliable information on public transport services and the current traffic situation prior to and during the trip. Ideally, the system would provide information wherever and whenever the customer needs it. In general, user-friendly pre-trip information should include the following elements:
- information on a journey from start to destination (ideally from door to door);
- the possibility of choosing a preferred mode of transport (rail/bus/car, etc.);
- information on total travel time (if possible with real-time data);
- information on travel costs (depending on the mode chosen);
- information on the number of times travellers will have to change (including waiting times and walking distances between modes);
- information on ancillary services (restaurant car, refreshment trolley, possibility of taking a bike, etc.);
- additional information (special offers, etc.).
So far, the most widespread approach has basically been to link the various data providers by means of communication networks. Data management and the design of the overarching operation system are the major challenges posed by the construction of such communication networks. Technically, solutions have always been found, but in Europe no such system has got beyond the pilot stage. That is why the most promising customer information systems are those that concentrate on improving timetable information and open up the possibility of providing door-to-door information on public transport (including information on urban public transport).
Attention must primarily focus on the organisational and economic feasibility of customer information systems, since there are hardly any limits from the point of view of technology. Therefore a step-by-step procedure is indicated. Modules will have to be designed individually until (hopefully) a complete communication network is eventually achieved. The following programme of work seems reasonable:
- implementation of a timetable information system covering all stations/stops in Switzerland including all urban public transport timetables and all stops on the network;
- addition of door-to-door connections through integration of an electronic map into the timetable information system so that individual addresses (street numbers) can be distinguished;
- integration of so-called points of interest (information on how to reach tourist sights, important buildings etc.);
- implementation of a communication network providing data on intermodal routes;
- extension of the communication network enabling it to provide information in real time (including information on delays, line interruptions, traffic congestion, park and ride etc).