User Empowerment and Advanced Public Transport Solutions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - public consultation, planning - service improvement, technology - passenger information


Public Transport Services, crowdsourcing, collaborative service desig, traveller information


Local Public Transport is vulnerable to reduction of public funding even when users’ expectations increase. The only way to develop and maintain adequate levels of service may be to promote solutions that rely on additional (cheap) resources. Those resources can be the users themselves, with their always-on personal devices and their willingness to participate in the improvement of this critical sector. This paper aims to show that more than competition and liberalization are needed to improve public transport services; the users’ positional disadvantage must be reduced and lack of power remedied. Infomobility should be personalized based on individual user preferences. Users should be empowered to influence the service, which will give flexibility to the system and foster bottom-up development. They can become partners in the design and innovation of public services and entrepreneurs in the exploitation of new services. The different levels of user involvement are described. In a traditional approach, user participation can be relatively passive: the Public Transport Service Provider can adopt models to capture and analyze patterns of user behavior. Public authority and service providers can rely on infrastructures, including sensors, probes, and bidirectional communication channels, of nearly zero cost for the transport operators. Following a widespread trend and the development of information technologies and social media, users can participate actively, even contributing to the design of new solutions. The paper, based on the recent literature on user-driven innovations, illustrates modes and roles of user participation in transport services, provides evidence of the feasibility of active user participation in innovation and design, and introduces design schemes that exploit information and telecommunication technologies, social networking, and crowdsourcing to involve users in the design and improvement of transport services. The final remarks outline a strategy in three steps to empower users and improve public transport services.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them


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