It’s a miracle!
Back in 2011, the train information on this Smartbus sign at Bentleigh station was switched off.
In 2016 during the level crossing removal project, the bus stop and sign were removed, then put back.
For a while the sign wasn’t working, but then the bus times were switched on. But not the train times.
On Monday, for the first time in over 8 years, the train times re-appeared. Eureka!
Thinking ahead, and more broadly: the real-time bus information that was once unique to Smartbus is now more widespread. It’s made its way onto smartphone apps.
The opportunity here is for authorities to get some solid passenger wins for relatively little investment.
- Roll-out street displays to more stops, showing departure countdowns for all routes. Sure, most people have a smart phone that can access this information, but it’s still better to “push” it to people.
- Put Smartbus-style Passenger Information Displays (PIDs) announcing the next stop into all new buses – London, a place that is serious about their buses, has done this. For that matter, all of Melbourne’s trams are getting it.
- Enhance them to be able to show other messages such as the current route, and disruption information (see London example below)
Displays inside new buses should be a no-brainer, given the other required infrastructure is already in place – when a Smartbus ends up on a “normal” route, it appears the displays work correctly.
Unfortunately the current program of 100 new buses for Transdev has missed this. They are adding new generation Myki readers, USB ports for charging, and better external destination displays, which is good. But no internal displays.
(Marcus Wong points out in his blog today that they’ve also missed an opportunity to shift to more hybrid or electric buses.)
Displays at stations are also handy, as bus drivers can see imminent train arrivals, and may be able to wait for connecting passengers.
Of course, more direct routes and better bus frequency and operating hours are the best thing to get more people using buses.
But making them user-friendly for new and regular users is also important, and should be an easy win.