Restoring Passenger Confidence with Live Loading Information System
New measures are being put in place to protect bus riders in Italy and restore confidence in safe bus travel, enabling ridership levels to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bus operator Autoguidovie (AGI) has implemented Trapeze Group’s newly developed live loading information system, which enables passengers to understand whether upcoming buses have available capacity before embarking on a journey.
Managing Reduced Capacity
This technology is required due to current bus capacity restrictions to ensure on-board social distancing. In Italy the rules currently allow for vehicles to operate at 50% of capacity. With this development, passengers are able to check live capacity via real time digital signs at bus stops, journey planning applications, and on-vehicle LED displays.
Gabriele Pusinelli, General Manager at Autoguidovie said: “In the current situation we felt we needed to inform passengers of current load levels at bus stops and via the app when booking their trip. This means they can see whether they are able to embark, or should wait a few minutes for the next bus.
“Before this solution we found that passengers were becoming frustrated when buses arrived and they then found they were full and couldn’t board. Now everybody knows when a bus has available capacity, and passengers and drivers are all on the same page.
“As a result, people are now more inclined to ride the bus again, which is vital in order to encourage ridership levels to recover – while keeping the public safe, of course.”
Utilising the Data
Real-time loading information data is collected via an Automated Passenger Counting (APC) system, and this data is then queried by Trapeze’s on-board computer. This computer understands the maximum capacity and can therefore calculate the present load level and display available capacity to the driver and public.
The maximum number of passengers can be configured via Trapeze’s LIO ITS system, so it can be increased over time in line with anticipated future relaxing of social distancing requirements.
After AGI reached out to Trapeze Group to assist with potential loading level information to deliver improved customer confidence in bus travel, the team started work to get the system up and running. Despite challenges relating to Covid-19, by working closely together both teams were able to successfully deliver this functionality.
Installing the System Virtually
Gabriele added: “We faced some difficulties due to being unable to meet in person, but we nevertheless had the system up and running on time, which was very important for us.
“All the functionality had to be tested online. We were pleased with how Trapeze worked to support us through the process, which meant we could ensure the traveling public were kept safe.”
This system is now available for wider implementation and can be integrated with APC systems, or other approaches to accessing live loading data. For Buses with no automatic passenger counting system or if such a system is malfunctioning, the driver can manually enter the occupancy level via the driver terminal.
Restoring Confidence and Building a Better, Safer Future
In the post-pandemic period many regions have witnessed worrying rises in private car journeys, as people avoid public transport in favour of transport modes that are seen as more safe.
With air quality issues increasing, and global CO2 emissions continuing to rise, it is vital that the travelling public feel they can safely access reliable forms of sustainable transport.
Live loading information solutions empower the public to make informed decisions about their travel, and are a vital tool in restoring confidence in public transport. We believe increased use of this technology will ensure people can travel safely in the short term, and address wider air quality concerns into the future.