Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Zurich Real Time Public Transport Information

As I have written before, the quality of Zurich's public transport system never ceases to amaze me. We visited last week for the International Association of Railway Operations Research (IAROR) conference and had a chance to catch-up with what they have been doing since we left. The biggest change for me is the real time public transport information systems.

All the new vehicles and most of the old vehicles have been outfitted with television monitors that display the next three stops, travel time to these stops and the final destination. Next to each stop all the connecting public transport lines are listed. That's pretty good, but it gets better.

As the bus or tram approaches a stop where there are connecting public transport lines, a second screen shows the departure time of the connecting lines and displays any delays for the particular line (see below). This gives you time to re-plan your route if something is delayed (although lines are seldom delayed in Zurich!).

The on-vehicle system is complimented by real time displays of bus and tram arrivals at all the main bus/tram stops and many of the smaller ones. The displays are simple and easy to read. These are very common today, but the extent of their deployment in Zurich is noteworthy.

As shown on the photo to the left, real time train information is also available on Zurich's S-Bahn (regional rail network), although the transfer of real time S-Bahn data to the Zurich city buses and trams did not seem to be working yet. It's probably only a question of time, the highly innovative and successful StadtbahnZug! S-Bahn system in Zug Switzerland was experimenting with providing local transit information in the trains several years ago.

I am not sure if Zurich's system is unique, but I have never seen a similar system so it might be. In any case it's an excellent example of providing real time public transport data. It's so good I am working on a parody music video of it, you'll see the video here first!

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