Navigating cities has become an extremely complicated task. MaaS promises to guide travelers effortlessly through the so-called jungle of the urban mobility network. One of the severe challenges that stands in the way of living up to this promise is disruptions, which happen on a daily basis, especially in larger cities. The majority of urban dwellers can relate to being extremely frustrated by being late to work because of a disrupted line. In these situations, what travelers need the most are guidance and reassurance.
At Trafi, we took this challenge very seriously — to provide top-notch real-time disruption updates, to allow travelers to plan their door-to-door trips effortlessly even when disruptions occur. Firstly, we analyzed the currently available disruption services on the market and identified multiple problems, and then attempted to tackle them.
What we found out
Disruptions are not granular enough. This leads to false alarms, e.g. a traveler is notified that the line they were planning to take is disrupted, even when that only concerns one direction of that line.
Disruption information is incomplete. There are several sources of information and not all get taken into account.
Informing users only on planned disruptions, while a fair percentage of disruptions happen spontaneously.
Based on these observations, we designed a solution to tackle these problems heads on.
Overview of Trafi MaaS Suite disruptions
Short messages explaining the cause and severity of disruptions. No need to read long paragraphs to understand what happened and how it affects your trip.
Disruption alerts are shown in two places of our white label mobility app — on the nearby and route search screens. ‘Nearby’ is the first screen that users see when opening the app. Thus, travelers can instantly indicate if there are any disruptions happening around them and, if yes, adjust their traveling plans. If travelers search for a specific route, they are able to see if there is any kind of disruption for that desired route within the route search screen.
Types of alerts sent to travelers:
Informational alerts — simple information updates for travelers that do not affect departure or arrival times. e.g. informational alerts can inform that tram service was exchanged with the bus service for the upcoming 2 weeks since tram tracks being fixed.
Warning alerts — indicate that the scheduled route time is affected, meaning that the line is still running the service, but departure or arrival time can be off the original schedule.
Cancelation alerts — inform when the line service is canceled completely.
The most granular disturbances on a direction and stop level for planned and unplanned disruptions.
Planned disruption information comes from the official Public Transport Authority (PTA) sources that we receive through API. Trafi’s system sends automatic updates every 5 minutes, checking for the newest information from the PTA source. E.g. canceled bus line, change of route length, etc. Our system indicates not only that there is a disruption per route level, but also indicated it for a particular disrupted direction (track) for each schedule, meaning that users who are traveling in another direction on the same affected route are not bothered or misled by redundant information.
Unplanned disruption updates are derived from real-time mobility situations. Let’s say that there is a major congestion due to a huge storm. As a result, four busses are stuck and have not been able to move for the past 35 minutes. Thanks to real-time vehicle tracking, Trafi will spot this and immediately send a disruption alert.
We integrate all available sources
For example, Berliners are warned about all service disruptions in one place -the BVG Jelbi app-, including U-Bahn, BVG buses, BVG trams, and S-Bahn disruptions, which cover 95% of the total annual public transport passenger traffic. And soon we will reach 100 % of trip coverage.
Trafi prepared a toolset for cities to publish disruptions manually to cover all possible cases.
Official sources do not always provide all the disruption information and sometimes it requires adding them manually. The lockdown situation during COVID-19 proved that changes for public transport were made quicker than updates were available in official sources. E.g. information such as front bus doors won’t be used to enter a bus anymore, or that it is required to wear a mask if a passenger wants to enter the vehicle were not part of official disruptions but yet highly important for people to know.
Our proprietary tool allows MaaS operators to manually post disruption information: not only by writing a message but also marking what lines, schedules, directions, or stops were affected and how.
The disruption function is now live in the BVG Jelbi app powered by Trafi. The ability to provide the most accurate and granular public transport disruption information sets Trafi apart. But we do not stop here, we strive for the best support of the travelers, thus next we are working on:
– Informing users on the way. E.g. if a traveler is on the way and disruption happens that affects their journey, they will be informed.
– Supporting replanning of the trip to navigate around disruptions. In addition to suggesting another public transport route, we plan to help people discover other modes, and intermodal routes to reach their destination on time.
Founded in Vilnius, Lithuania, Trafi has been revolutionizing urban mobility since 2013. Our MaaS platform is designed to run even the most complex transport systems and has been trusted by Berlin (BVG), Brussels (STIB), Portsmouth & Southampton (Solent Transport), Munich (MVG), and Zurich (SBB).
Trafi’s mission is to empower cities with state-of-the-art MaaS solution that helps to tackle their mobility challenges and to achieve ambitious sustainability objectives. Our white-label product offers all the features and components needed to launch your own-branded MaaS service. With more than 50 existing deep integrations to mobility service providers and payment facilitators, we help to reduce risk, cost, and time-to-launch for new services.