Interface Design

As collective transport modes are generally adopted in Europe with increasing priority over privatised vehicles, there is a need to simplify the user interface between passengers and ticketing machines. A European project is developing an interface which will facilitate easy access to self-service machines for the mobility impaired and other groups traditionally less confident with technology. It is expected that generational acceptance of improved ticketing interfaces will vary, partly in correlation with attitudes toward car ownership. Front-End Baby Boomers regard car ownership as a status symbol and therefore may be less likely to acquiesce to digitally connected modes of transport.

• A user interface allows people to communicate and interact with machines or technical devices.

• However, generational acceptance of improved collective transport ticketing interfaces will vary, partly in correlation with attitudes toward car ownership.

• Improved interface design for collective transport ticketing is expected to reduce the necessary input from passengers significantly.

“How to realise a seamless transition between different means of transportation?”

A user interface allows people to communicate and interact with machines or technical devices – whether these are computers, smartphones, or even vehicles. To get access to mobility networks or to improve the mobile experience, travellers interact with machines every day. In Europe, more than 100,000 bank and self-service ticket machines provide services to millions of drivers, commuters and travellers every day.

Catering to personal needs

A new pan-European project is focusing on the development of user interfaces for ticket vending machines.

The EU is now funding a project worth millions to facilitate easy access to self-service machines for the elderly and mobility-impaired.

Operating the machines via a touch screen user interface, customers receive a smartcard with RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) technology, within which individual screen and operating parameters are stored. After reading the card data, the interface adjusts font size, colour and contrast of the machine’s touch screen to the user’s profile. The content displayed is also adjusted to the personal needs and preferences of each individual passenger.


Increasing the attractiveness and usability of public transport

With such new software and interfaces, the use of public self-service machines is made much easier, reducing the necessary input from the passenger significantly. As a result, the attractiveness of public transport increases, as well as the mobility of the elderly and mobility-impaired passengers.

EXAMPLE: Smartcards for multi-modal transportation

The Octopus card, much like the MTA metro card in New York City and the Oyster Card in London, is a multi-usage smartcard for public transportation in Hong Kong. It has since expanded the range of the card to include many places such as stores, restaurants, parking lots and as an entrance card to schools, office buildings and residential buildings.

Generation Reactions;

  • Millennials will be pro; they are natural-born supporters of digitally-enhanced, smart, urban solutions.
  • Prime Busters will be pro; this time-starved generation is looking for time-saving, smart traffic solutions.
  • Back-End BabyBoomers will have mixed feelings; on the one hand, they become irritated by car immobility in cities (and loss of time), plus they are sensitive to the advice of their Millennial children. On the other hand, the idea of digitally-connected modes of transport are habit-killers, forcing them to leave the mobile comfort zone of their private car.
  • Front-End BabyBoomers will be against; they are accustomed to owning a private car and to them, this still represents a status symbol.

EXAMPLE: Towards an eco-mobile city – Mobil.Punkt engages Bremen in car-sharing

The German city of Bremen is a leading ‘Eco-Mobile City’, with only 40% of commuters using cars or motorcycles. This can be attributed to Bremen’s intermodal transportation developments. As of 2010, of the 547,000 inhabitants of Bremen, 5,700 were car-sharing customers. Bremen is ambitious and intends to reach 20,000 customers by 2020. Car-sharing has shown many positive impacts, such as enabling people to use the appropriate size cars for each trip, which has led to a downsizing of owned cars. Another clear benefit was that 1500 fewer parking spaces were needed throughout the city, resulting in savings of €20-€40 million for parking infrastructure.

In cooperation with different service providers, the European Commission and commercial sponsors, Bremen facilitates interchanges between car-sharing, public transport and cycling. In 2002, three special, integrated, intermodal car-sharing stations were created and branded with ‘Mobil.punkt’. After a two-year run, the stations were a success. The anticipated problems of eliminating public parking spaces and complaints from residents didn’t happen. An early interview directly after the launch showed an 80% acceptance towards the new stations. Furthermore, a lot of the companies can abandon the use of one or two company cars due to the new car-sharing service. Air quality has also significantly improved.

Similar projects are the ‘Miracles’ project in Rome (Italy), promoting carpooling and car-sharing, and ‘Mobilis’ in Toulouse (France), expanding and diversifying the car-sharing scheme.

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