The causes of differences in the quality and quantity of spatial information about urban public transport within the European Union


A Morrison

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - signage/information, place - europe, place - urban


During 1995 the author spent two months in continental Europe conducting a study which focused primarily upon the influences on the design and availability of public transport maps. He visited 25 cities in 11 countries, and noted the characteristics of the displays of public transport spatial information such as maps, tested the effectiveness of the spatial information by travelling on the cities' transport networks, and conducted interviews with the people responsible for commissioning or designing the public transport spatial displays. So far, the main published results of this work relate only to the design of public transport maps (Morrison, 1996b, 1997), even though a record was kept of all spatial aspects of the public transport information systems in each town. The reason was that good quality spatial information was displayed in nearly all the 11 countries visited, so he found little scope for investigating the reasons why spatial information might be lacking or of poor quality. The one exception is that public transport spatial information in some Italian cities was of lower quality than in most of the countries visited. The author knew from a brief visit in 1992 that in some Spanish towns public transport spatial information may be absent or of poor quality (Morrison,1994,1995). These countries differ from most of the countries visited in 1995 in that they are less wealthy and the level of subsidy to public transport is less. The author hypothesised that national wealth is a major influence on the quality of spatial public transport information provision. To investigate whether this is the case would require visits to the other less wealthy countries of the EU besides Italy, namely Spain, Portugal, Greece and Eire. These visits were made in 1999. The United Kingdom occupies an intermediate position among the countries of the European Union in terms of national wealth, but it is the only country which exemplifies a second factor which the author, from his own experience (Morrison, 1996c) suspects has strongly affected the quality of public transport spatial information, namely the deregulation of the bus industry. To provide a convincing comparison with the other countries of the European Union it would be necessary to make studies in a number of Bdtish towns, using similar methods. These were made in 1998. This meant that the only westem European country not studied during 1995-1999 was France, but the author studied public transport spatial information provision in many French towns in 1992 (Morrison, 1996a) and found that it was even then of such high quality that France could scarcely be disadvantaged by using observations from that earlier year. Thus, this research aimed to verify two hypotheses. This paper is mainly concerned with the first, namely that the availability and quality of spatial information about urban public transport is influenced by national wealth. A second paper will concentrate on the second, namely that the availability and quality of spatial information about urban public transport for travellers in Britain, is inferior to that in other western European countries, because the buses in most parts of Britain are deregulated.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.