IT solutions for travel planning like e.g. apps and websites that assist citizens and travellers in planning their journeys are important for encouraging multimodality.
The research for travel related IT-solutions in the project, conducted by the Institute of Baltic Studies (IBS) is based on three models for data collection. Firstly, a desk research has been conducted to map existing travel planning solutions elsewhere in Europe. The desk research provided an understanding of which kind of solutions that already exist and are technically possible to develop.
Secondly, a template was created and distributed among the ten partners cities. The purpose of the template was to chart the functionalities of travel planning IT solutions available in project cities. Altogether 15 templates were filled in i.e. 15 IT travel planning solutions formed the sample of the mini-analysis.
The main value of the analysis was the results of the comparison between the solutions currently available in the cites and the broader set of travel planning solutions. It was for example interesting to see that out of the 15 solutions less than half had integrated walking paths and only four offered cycling paths. As another example, we saw that multimodality functionalities (such as integration of on-demand transport, bike sharing, car sharing, carpooling) were minimally represented. It also became evident that some interesting functionalities found in other cities in connection with the desk research were rare among project cities.
Thirdly, semi-structured interviews with project partners were conducted to clarify aspects of the templates and gather more detailed information in some areas of interest. In some cases, follow-up questions were forwarded to relevant public transportation and IT specialists. The interviews helped to create an understanding why the available solutions are so different.
Based on the interviews, we saw that ownership matters. Certain kinds of ownership can limit the available functionalities. It is a matter of goals, priorities and available funds. For example, if a travel planning IT solution is owned by a local public transport provider, it is not necessarily their first priority to also integrate bike and car sharing on their platform.
Finally, a follow-up discussion was held during the Aarhus project meeting in April. The next step will be a further synthesis of the collected input. The outcome will be a guidelines document with examples and recommendations based on the partner cities’ experience. The document will also include a “criteria catalogue” with a list of functionalities that could potentially be included into a travel planning solution. The document is meant to help future procurement processes in cities and development of existing IT solutions by offering new ideas, functionalities and recommendations.
On the left a figure of covered infrastructure in partner cities’ travel planning applications
Text: Mart Veliste, IBS