New Communications Technology

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As smartphone ownership continues to increase among the public, transit providers will be more able to supply real-time information (RTI) to transit users regarding vehicle scheduling, fares, service disruptions, and future planning projects. Not all riders, of course, have smartphones with internet access. Still, research suggests a shift away from traditional methods of obtaining transit information and trip planning toward the newer technology in ways that can enhance the riding experience.[1] A recent survey of St. Louis Metro uses found greater satisfaction with service among those bus riders who used smartphones to make transfer connections. Those who used text messaging also reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction with the agency's responses to service changes or disruptions. The authors suggest that access to smartphones and texting can lead to more positive perceptions of safety and security, increase the likelihood riders with continue riding transit, and recommend it to others.

Mobile Device Technology

Further Reading

Transit Cooperative Research Program, TCRP REPORT 84, Electronic Business Strategies for Public Transportation, Volume 4, Advanced Features of Transit Websites, 2003.

This TRB Report includes information on automated itinerary planners, real-time customer information, e-mail notification systems, and customer relationship management.

Transit Cooperative Research Program, TCRP REPORT 84, Electronic Business Strategies for Public Transportation, Volume 8, Improving Public Transportation Technology Implementations and Anticipating Emerging Technologies, 2008.

This TRB Report reviews current technologies used in public transportation, examines methods for improving the success of technology implementation, and reviews five promising emerging technologies with application for transit agencies.

Transit Cooperative Research Program, TCRP REPORT 115, Smartcard Interoperability Issues for the Transit Industry, 2006.

This TRB Report identifies information needed by public agencies to implement smartcard payment systems interoperability; examines the necessary information flows; and outlines a set of functions needed for a standard public domain application programming interface (API) that may be used in the development of a uniform application protocol data unit (APDU). The report also includes a prototype for an API and an APDU that demonstrates this “proof of concept” for International Organization for Standardization-compliant Type A and Type B cards.

Transit Cooperative Research Program, Synthesis 70, "Mobile Data Terminals: A Synthesis of Transit Practice," 2007.

This report explores the state-of-the-practice of mobile data terminals (MDTS) in transit and the wireless communications infrastructure that supports MDT deployment.

Transit Cooperative Research Program, Synthesis 91, "Use and Deployment of Mobile Device Technology for Real-Time Transit Information," 2011.

This report covers technological requirements to deploying information on mobile devices, and how mobile messaging can contribute to an overall transit agency communications strategy.

Transit Cooperative Research Program, Synthesis 99, "Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation," 2012.

This report explores the use of social media such as blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare, and MySpace among transit agencies and documents successful practices in the United States and Canada.

Transit Cooperative Research Program, Synthesis 104, "Use of Electronic Passenger Information Signage in Transit," 2013.

This report documents U.S. and international use of electronic passenger information signage including information characteristics, sign technology, required resources required, and decision processes.
  1. Windmiller, et al., "Accessibility of Communication Technology and the Rider Experience," Transportation Research Record 2415, 2014, pp 118-126.