Sweden’s southernmost county
Skåne, also known in English as Scania,
is one of the country’s most populous.
With the completion in 2000
of the Öresund Link joining Skåne’s
capital Malmö with Copenhagen on
the other side of Öresund, the region
also became one of Sweden’s most
dynamic, with rapid growth and
increased foreign investment. This
growth and the closer ties with Denmark
naturally increased demands
on public transport.
As part of its efforts to improve public transport services, the county transit authority Skånetrafiken recently signed a contract with Swedish Mobitex operator Mowic for a new passenger information system. Skånetrafiken chose Mowic’s Mobitex solution over several other offers.
Skånetrafiken is responsible for all public transport in Skåne and operates buses and trains serving the entire county and linking the region’s four largest cities with each other and with Denmark via train services over the Öresund Link. Some 150,000 passengers travel with Skånetrafiken each day, and in 2001 a total of 86 million trips were made on the operator’s buses and trains, which include city, regional and express buses and commuter and regional rail-lines.
As noted in the county transit authority’s traffic service plan for the period from 2002 to 2003, traffic information is an important area for improvements and a perquisite for ensuring that public transport is easily accessible and that passengers are satisfied. This applies to information both prior and during travel regarding schedules, delays and alternative routes. The information must be easily accessible, relevant and correct.
“Today, our passengers are not particularly
satisfied with information regarding delays
when problems occur in our bus and train services.
By introducing automatic vehicle location
and real-time information on buses over the next
few years, Skånetrafiken intends to improve traffic
information for its customers,” says Krister
Nordland, technical manager at Skånetrafiken.
Mowik supplies a solution
The service that Mowic will supply to Skånetrafiken includes wireless data communication for sending and receiving messages and for positioning with GPS (Global Postitioning System). The position of each bus is reported in real-time, thus allowing arrival times at stops further down the line to be estimated. This information is presented to passengers on displays at bus stops and on electronic signs on the buses, as well as directly to affected drivers. Drivers will also be able to receive messages from the traffic control center and be able to send messages themselves in cases of emergency, for example.
In the first phase, the Mobitex system will
include city bus lines in Malmö and a regional
bus route linking South Sandby and Staffanstorp
with Lund, the region’s second largest city and
home to its two largest universities, Lund University
and Lund Institute of Technology. A total
of 57 buses will be connected to the Mobitex
system, which is expected to handle some 6.5
million messages per year.
Wireless data vital for real-time information
As Skånetrafiken’s system is expanded, the county transit authority also intends to present real-time traffic information on its website using an application called Is my bus on time? This application will be similar to an existing application called Is my train on time?
Real-time information for trains is already available through the National Rail Administration, which owns the tracks and is responsible for traffic control. The application on Skånetrafiken’s website displays a route map for all train services with color-coded symbols showing the current position of each train and indicating whether it is on time, no more than 10 minutes late or more than 10 minutes late. More detailed information regarding delays and estimated arrival and departure times is available by clicking on train symbols and station names.
“A wireless data service meeting high
demands on quality is a vital component in a
real-time passenger information system,” says
Krister Nordland. “Special expertise is
required for such a service. Skånetrafiken
lacked such expertise and had not desire to
acquire it or to master the challenges that
mobile data communication would entail. In
evaluating the tenders, Skånetrafiken concluded
that the Mowic solution was the most economically
When Skånetrafiken formulated the requirements specification in its request for tender, availability and reliability were key technical requirements. Simply put, the county transit authority wanted guarantees that the wireless network would always be available and that positioning data would be transmitted under all traffic conditions.
Although one of Sweden’s GSM/GPRS
operators eventually submitted a tender, customer
requirements eliminated GPRS from the
start. The GPRS operator, which is addressing a
mass market with its services, simply could not
guarantee that the network would always be
available, even when many buses were transmitting
from a single location, or that data would
not be lost due to a dropped connection. “Because
we target professional users, we always ask
customers what level of service they require.
Mowic’s Mobitex solution provided the guarantees
that the customer wanted and was also the
most cost-effective solution,” says Björn Sabel,
marketing manager at Mowic AB.