New Real-Time Passenger Information System to the Oulu Region

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The City of Oulu, Northern Ostro-Bothnia’s Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) and the municipalities in the Oulu region have tendered a new information system for public transport. A contract has been made with the tender winner, FARA, which contains the delivery of the system and at least six years of information system service. The value of the contract is approximately 1 000 000 euros (vat 0%).

Photo: Timo Valtanen. Traffic engineer Jukka Talvi (left) and traffic light expert Jani Koppelo (right) are looking for a suitable display to the stop called Rautasaari.

The service covers all of the Oulu region’s 2 000 stops and 100 busses. The system is based on satellite positioning and wireless communications. The information service on internet is scalable to different sized displays. In addition to the passengers’ own devices, information is presented on 41 displays at essential bus stops. In addition, the information can be presented easily on information displays at public buildings. The system is taken into trial use during spring 2015. During summer and autumn of 2014, preliminary work will be performed at bus stops.

”City of Oulu has defined the system according to the functionality in the passenger’s everyday travel at different use cases”, tells City of Oulu’s traffic engineer Jukka Talvi, who acts as the project manager. ”The most important questions to which the system should provide answers for came up nicely by city council members at a council info that handled public transport – passengers wish to know when the bus arrives and where it is currently coming.”, Talvi continues.

When does the bus arrive? This information is presented in the Internet-service and on bus stop displays as a list of next departures. On part of busses that are on route, an estimate based on the real-time position is presented in minutes and for later arrivals, the time based on the schedule. Schedules for future dates can be searched from the information service based on individual stops.

Where is the bus currently coming? This information is presented as a map view that shows the real-time position of buses that are driving towards the stop.

”The system differs even on international level to its merit because of its cost-effectiveness, diverse information is presented on bus stop displays and also the information services are extremely user-friendly”, tells Antti Jurvelin who acts as FARA’s project manager.

A tablet designed for use in rough conditions is used as the vehicle hardware, allowing the driver to monitor the adherence to the time table and also to deliver interruption messages with few clicks. Displays are placed mainly on bus shelters and in addition to the listed departures, they present a map view that is rarely seen anywhere else. Information service will be integrated as part of the –web site, from which a passenger with a single click gets to see the nearest stop’s next departures and can monitor the real location of busses with the next click. –service contains also a trip planner that is easy-to-use and focuses on the position and also a public transport navigator that monitors the progress of a journey. The information service works on a computer, a tablet and a smart phone, scaling to the display size and focusing to the user’s position.

Data produced by the information system is distributed via open and standard interfaces to developers who can create for example personified mobile applications or merge the Oulu region’s information as part of an existing application. Information is distributed also to multinational actors such as Google and Here in order to present the public transport information of Oulu as comprehensively as possible in their services. Information system produces actualized data to the planners of public transport, allowing for example the modification of time tables on the basis of real driving times.

In addition, the system includes controls for traffic light priorities to busses that are behind their schedule. During the year 2015, priorities are implemented at all traffic light intersections used by public transport. The effect of priorities to other transport is controlled by a required time to be late, thereby for example at a crowded intersection, only a bus that is way behind its schedule is given priority. On general level, the priority benefits also other transport at the main street.

Additional information

Traffic engineer Jukka Talvi, City of Oulu, Urban and Environmental Services, first name.last, 044 703 2108

CEO Antti Jurvelin, Fara Oy, first name.last, 040 500 0754