Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Developing the next generation of public transport

For over a decade there has been a structured European research effort on Intelligent Transport Systems for public transport (IPTS). At the same time, operators and authorities have been investing in new and enhanced systems. It is now time to take stock – to identify clearly what has been developed and deployed, what is now in demonstration mode, and what concepts are in the pipeline. In parallel, we need to look at the changes over the coming decades – what new societal trends will emerge, and what new technological developments will provide the platform for new concepts – and consider what tools and services will be needed for the public transport of tomorrow. European researchers have shown that they can be highly innovative, but they need to know what opportunities and problems to address.

The aim of the Tr@nsits-network was to bring together all actors in the IPTS-sector, in order to have a relevant and open discussion on the future research axes and not at least to take initiatives in these new research axes.

Firstly the recent situation in IPTS was described. This was followed by identification of the future societal issues and technological developments. The comparison between those two revealed the topics for new or additional research. Attention was given to the effectiveness of current and emerging IPTS solutions, rather than just technical feasibility. This phase developed a workplan for an IPTS research program. It identified axes and specific elements, linking societal and business needs to required outputs from the research program. It identified priorities, both in terms of 'enabling' technologies and/or knowledge, and in terms of the interest of the industry sector.

The primary output of the network activity was the drafting of a work plan for a IPTS research programme for the coming years, based on the identification of research objectives and research priorities. Reports were also prepared on each of the three phases of investigation. Since these deliverables are based on a deep consultation process within the European industry, as well as extensive expert input, they have the potential to form the basis of the preparation of dedicated Network of Excellence or Integrated Projects within the Sixth and consecutive Framework Programmes. More specifically,

Technological developments

Some applications still need further technological development. This is the case for a lot of the IPTS in the field of safety and security. It is only recently that decision takers were getting aware of the risks that are inherent to the huge amounts of people being together in the public transport network. However, up till now not that much networks are equipped with (extensive) safety and security applications and new developments cannot yet be based on experiences from implemented systems.


Technical standardisation allows that applications built on these standardised technologies will find a much broader market and thus will be cheaper for the end-user. Another and even more important aspect is that standardisation eases integration. Building applications on top of different other applications will be much easier if these last applications are standardised. For example a nationwide, or even international travel information system would be much easier to build if all local travel information applications could provide the same standardised output. This aspect of integration is extremely important since public transport will only be able to provide an answer to private transport modes by integrating the networks and everything attached to this.

Customer focus and ambient technology

More and more customer expects individualised solutions for their transport needs. Providing these personalized services are a must if we want to make sure public transport will stay or get a valuable transport solution. Only innovative, flexible and integrated IPTS-solutions can guarantee this.

Organisational aspects

On a first sight this might not be a subject of relevance in this context. However one of the main reasons why certain very useful technologies are not in use today has to do with organisational problems. Very often the reason is that the technological solutions do not fully match the (changing) institutional situation. In Europe a clear tendency of decentralisation of the decision centers for regional and urban public transport is observed. Taking into account as well the customer demand of integrated services and the following demand for standardisation it should be clear that these organisational aspects affects the way systems will be build and architectures will be designed.

Related information

Reported by

International Association of Public Transport (UITP)
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