For over a decade there has been a structured European research effort on Intelligent Transport Systems for Public Transport. At the same time, operators and authorities have been investing in new and enhanced systems. It is now time to take stock – to identify clearly what has been developed and deployed, what is now in demonstration mode, and what concepts are in the pipeline. In parallel, we need to look at the changes over the coming decades – what new societal trends will emerge, and what new technological developments will provide the platform for new concepts – and consider what tools and services will be needed for the public transport of tomorrow. European researchers have shown that they can be highly innovative, but they need to know what opportunities and problems to address. The Tr@nsITS project was intended to focus the knowledge and experience of the European public transport industry to identify the key research needs.
The aim of the Tr@nsITS-network was to bring together all actors in the ITS-sector, in order to have a relevant and open discussion on the future research axes and not at least to take initiatives in these new research axes.
The primary output of the network activity shall be the drafting of a work plan for a IPTS research programme for the coming years, based on the identification of research objectives and research priorities. Reports shall be also prepared on each of the three phases of investigation. Since these deliverables are based on a deep consultation process within the European industry, as well as extensive expert input, they were supposed to have the potential to form the basis of the preparation of dedicated Network of Excellence or Integrated Projects within the 6th and consecutive Framework Programmes.
The key objectives of Tr@nsITS were:
- to establish a network reflective of the European urban and regional public transport sector
- to advance the available tools and implementation of Intelligent Public Transport systems
- to develop a research workplan for consideration in the 6th FP and subsequent programs
Firstly the recent situation in IPTS has been described. This was followed by identification of the future societal issues and technological developments. The comparison between those two revealed the topics for new or additional research. Attention was given to the effectiveness of current and emerging IPTS solutions, rather than just technical feasibility. This phase developed a workplan for an IPTS research program. It identified axes and specific elements, linking societal and business needs to required outputs from the research program. It identified priorities, both in terms of 'enabling' technologies and/or knowledge, and in terms of the interest of the industry sector.
Some applications still need further technological development. This is the case for a lot of the ITS in the field of safety and security. It is only recently that decision takers were getting aware of the risks that are inherent to the huge amounts of people being together in the public transport network. However, up till now not that much networks are equipped with (extensive) safety and security applications and new developments cannot yet be based on experiences from implemented systems.
Technical standardisation allows that applications built on these standardised technologies will find a much broader market and thus will be cheaper for the end-user. Another and even more important aspect is that standardisation eases integration. Building applications on top of different other applications will be much easier if these last applications are standardised. For example a nationwide, or even international travel information system would be much easier to build if all local travel information applications could provide the same standardised output. This aspect of integration is extremely important since public transport will only be able to provide an answer to private transport modes by integrating the networks and everything attached to this.
Customer focus and ambient technology:
More and more customer expects individualized solutions for their transport needs. Providing these personalized services are a must if we want to make sure public transport will stay or get a valuable transport solution. Only innovative, flexible and integrated ITS-solutions can guarantee this.
On a first sight this might not be a subject of relevance in this context. However one of the main reasons why certain very useful technologies are not in use today has to do with organizational problems. Very often the reason is that the technological solutions do not fully match the (changing) institutional situation. In Europe a clear tendency of decentralization of the decision centers for regional and urban public transport is observed. Taking into account as well the customer demand of integrated services and the following demand for standardization it should beclear that these organizational aspects affects the way systems will be build and architectures will be designed.