Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from ITS (UK) (DAT 18)

1.0 Introduction

1.1 The Transport Committee launched its inquiry on land transport security to seek views on the European Commission’s Staff Working Document on transport security, which was published on 31 May 2012.

1.2 ITS United Kingdom, referred to hereafter as ITS (UK), is a “not-for-profit” public/private sector association financed by members’ subscriptions providing a forum for all organisations concerned with ITS. The Society works to bring the advantages that ITS can offer in terms of economic efficiency, transport safety, and environmental benefits to the United Kingdom—and at the same time expand the ITS market. Membership, over 150 UK organisations, comprises Government Departments, Local Authorities, Police Forces, consultancies, manufacturing and service companies, and academic and research institutions. ITS United Kingdom encourages discussion on issues such as public/private co-operation, standards, legislation, information provision and new technology. ITS (UK) was a key contributor to the Parliamentary POSTNote 322 “Intelligent Transport Systems” published in Jan 2009.

1.3 Intelligent Transport Systems, “ITS”, is the term used to describe combinations of sensors, telecoms, information processing and location referencing to deliver improved transport systems and services including information before and during a trip for travellers by all modes. Some examples—ITS can improve the efficiency of transport through traffic control and enforcement of traffic regulations and enhance road safety through in-vehicle systems for collision avoidance and better lane keeping. Many commercial organisations use ITS to manage vehicle fleets, both freight and passenger, through the provision of real-time information and two way communication between manager and driver. Electronic ticketing (by means of Smartcards, for example) enables faster, easier travel by public transport. In addition Intelligent Transport Systems have beneficial effects on the environment by reducing air and noise pollution on highways and by helping to create traffic free zones in cities.

2.0 ITS (UK) Inclusive Mobility Interest Group

2.1 ITS (UK) has a specialist body, the Inclusive Mobility Interest Group (IMIG) for members who are interested in using ITS to support disabled and elderly travellers. This Group has academic, private and public transport expertise and experience. The Group’s Terms of Reference are attached as an appendix. Due to the nature of the Group’s activities, only two of the four issues listed in the Inquiry fall within its scope; therefore the submission has been limited accordingly. They are:

1.The accessibility of information: including the provision of information about routes, connections, timetables, delays and service alterations, and fares.

2.What can be learnt from transport provision during the Paralympics and how can we build on its successes?

2.2 Since 2008, the IMIG has undertaken collaborative work to understand and appreciate the issues industry and information providers must consider in terms of ensuring that pre, during and post journey information is provided and delivered in a manner that enables disabled and older people to make a safe, end to end journey using public transport. The focus of the IMIG is to understand how the rapidly evolving field of web-based and mobile phone technology (smart phones and applications) could offer a solution in terms of provision of live, real time journey information delivered in an appropriate way to support people with a range of impairments to travel independently.

2.3 The aim of the IMIG is to bring together a range of stakeholders from the public, private, Third and academic sectors, DfT and industry to understand the status of web and mobile phone technology approaches in order to define solutions via such developments. The reasoning behind ITS (UK) sponsorship of the IMIG is to use its influence as a means to allow the UK high technology sector to engage with specialists in the field of inclusive design, and to develop a series of practical measures to set standards and approaches to help all sectors of the community to exploit high technology when making a journey via public transport.

2.4 The approach the IMIG is currently taking in relation to this agenda is to map out access-related issues currently known to exist, gain an awareness of possible solutions, research current approaches elsewhere in the world (in particular North America) to test the validity of solutions, then use knowledge thus gained to support business and industry to build effective solutions to deliver better travel options for older and disabled people.

2.5 Within the terms of the Inquiry, ITS (UK) would make the general point that the main challenge in providing tailored travel information to disabled travellers is not the technologies needed to create and deliver the information; this challenge has been comprehensively met by the tools in use today for this purpose. Rather, the challenge is in the collection and collation of accurate and timely data required to support effective travel information services. However, this can be done incrementally, since accessibility information for any journey is a good thing, and there is no need to hold off providing a journey planning service until full accessibility information is available for absolutely all possible journeys.

3.0 The Accessibility of Information: Including the Provision of Information About Routes, Connections, Timetables, Delays and Service Alterations, and Fares

3.1 Whilst the accessibility of information in relation to transport and travel is covered within some modes of transport, an overall approach is still needed to bring together a common platform for all.

3.2 There are several issues which need to be considered here:

Lack of a national “one stop shop” facility (such as that offered by Tripscope) where a practical set of accessibility information can be obtained in relation to routes, connections, and timetables.

Lack of knowledge of common data sets on which to build a single whole journey planning tool which takes account of the information needs of people with a range of impairments (such as the Transport Direct website).

Lack of a joined up, national approach to bring together the range of special interest groups which can collectively explore potential solutions to problems known to exist in terms of information provision to help disabled people make an independent (as possible) journeys using mainstream public transport.

Lack of understanding and knowledge in relation to how social media networks could offer a means to address many of the “real time” information issues, such as service delays and disruption.

Lack of a common set of standards in terms of provision of transport and travel information for learning disabled and deaf people.

A commitment to address fundamental issues by a) setting up work streams that proactively engage with the issues known to exist, and b) establishing timescales in order to implement recognised, proven solutions.

In acknowledgement that mobile phone driven solutions are a logical way forward, many disabled and older people struggle with this type of technology on grounds of affordability, accessibility and availability. Equally, whilst the evolution of technology is to be commended, “backward compatibility” also needs to be considered as many disabled and older people still use older technology (PCs and mobile phones) which cannot access modern internet-driven products.

3.3 There are also wider issues which need to be given serious consideration here. Although heavy and light rail are adequately covered in terms of information provision via the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulation (RVAR), the bus sector does not offer the same level of information via the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulation (PSVAR). The Guide Dogs campaign for “Talking Buses” clearly highlights the gap here, and whilst the campaign is absolutely valid, the means by which to explore potential solutions does not yet exist. Furthermore, a national decision should be made in terms of whether or not real time information delivery needs to focus on beacon or GPS delivery. A decision of this nature would offer a huge amount of potential to enable “point to point” journeys to be made from a home to destination perspective in order to facilitate a whole journey experience.

3.4 There are several options to consider in terms of ways forward:

Look to better understand how information provision works in North America, where the technology has been in place for some time.

Establish a national consortium-led (“not for profit”) national network to work collaboratively to further knowledge and solutions in terms of information provision.

4.0 What can be Learnt from Transport provision during the Paralympics and how can we Build on its Successes

4.1 This response looks firstly at the technology that was delivered to support a dramatic improvement in information on journey accessibility for the spectators attending both Olympic & Paralympic Games events. Secondly it looks at the potential for rolling that improvement out so that it becomes the norm for journey planning.

4.2 For the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games Atos worked on behalf of the ODA and DfT to deliver the Spectator Journey Planner (SJP). This built on the work already done by DfT in delivering the Transport Direct journey planner, to enable spectator’s to plan their journeys to and from games events.

4.3 In conjunction with the ODA, two accessibility options for journeys commencing from anywhere in Great Britain to venues were added:

Whether the journey is wheelchair accessible. This applied to the suitability of both stops/stations and vehicles?

Whether passenger assistance will be available at stops and on vehicles. Assistance may be pre-booked or be available on a walk-up basis. Assistance may be for both wheelchair and other users?

4.4 To achieve this, the SJP made use of two different levels of stop data. In London TfL had collected “level three path aware” accessibility data for its stops; whereas for the rest of Great Britain capability “level two data—stop level accessibility”, was created. These capabilities, whilst being documented in the NaPTAN v3 proto-standard, were not available as national datasets so had to be created specifically for the SJP.

4.5 Data that was already in TfL and South East Traveline data describing the wheelchair accessibly of local bus services was added to both to define wheelchair accessibility of national rail, coach, tram and underground services and to define the services for which assistance was available.

4.6 The journey planning algorithms and JourneyWeb standard were enhanced to take into account these new factors. This, in combination with the new data about stops and services, enabled disabled travellers to plan journeys, from anywhere in Great Britain, to venues that met the users selected accessibility requirement.

4.7 The output was able to show disabled travellers not only detailed journeys times but also the accessibility of each journey leg. Finally the SJP sought to link to users to other good sources of accessibility information such as Stations Made Easy and Google Streetview.

4.8 Now that the technology and data models have been proven within the limited scope of journeys to Olympic and Paralympic Games venues and the limited accessibility options that were available, this has demonstrated the potential for making a similar scoping of accessible journeys options via a wider Great Britain “Door to Door” public transport journey information service. It also demonstrates the potential for widening the scope of information captured on service accessibility.

4.9 To do this, rather than create short term data sets to service the Games period, the challenge is to integrate the data required into the standard industry data feeds used by the ITS industry to provide travel information services. This needs to be done to make the data provision affordable and sustainable.

5.0 Summary

5.1 ITS(UK)’s submission suggests that by adhering to the above that the investment by the transport industry in increased accessibility of services can be reflected in the information services about that transport provision; enabling passengers to find local and national services that match their accessibility needs.

APPENDIX

INCLUSIVE MOBILITY INTEREST GROUP
TERMS OF REFERENCE
NOVEMBER 2011

Mission Statement

The Inclusive Mobility Interest Group (IMIG) brings together ITS professionals, implementers, suppliers, researchers, and end users, including a wide range of disabled and older people and their representative bodies.

The IMIG will inform implementers and the user community of the latest developments in ITS, whilst implementers and the user community will advise on the needs of disabled and older people in the design, development and deployment of ITS. External experts will be invited to contribute to the IMIG community as required.

Membership of IMIG requires open and honest working practices towards common aspirations and goals. IMIG is not a suitable forum for political dogma or lobbying activity. No remuneration or payment of expenses will be provided for participants.

January 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013