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EC pushes for better multimodal travel planning

The European Commission (EC) is renewing efforts to develop Europe-wide all-in-one journey planners, making it easier to plan and book journeys that involve several means of transport with a single online tool, even across national borders. Coinciding with the 10th European ITS Congress in Helsinki, the EC has published its analysis of the current situation of multimodal travel planners and its plans for the way forward. In particular, the Commission is tackling issues such as restricted access to the necessary data and insufficient cooperation between everyone involved. With the internet and smartphones generating growth in highly personalized services, information that spans different forms of transport is a crucial factor for smart and seamless travel. Apart from making it much easier for people to plan and book their trips, all-in-one planners that integrate real-time traffic data would also improve information, making users aware of all possible travel options, even if they are already on their journey. Other benefits would include: making journeys greener by allowing travelers to easily identify the fastest and most environmentally friendly combination of different means of transport for each trip; reducing congestion and emissions by providing alternatives to congested or blocked routes; and offering new business opportunities and jobs in a very dynamic sector.

More than 100 multimodal journey planners are already available in Europe, however, they are all limited either geographically to individual cities or regions, or in their coverage of transport modes, and rarely offer any cross-border information. The EU’s first Smart Mobility Challenge, competition for multimodal journey planners, has shown that there are several hurdles to be overcome, including: more multimodal travel and traffic data needs to become available, and it needs to be made accessible; the quality of multimodal travel and traffic data is often insufficient; data formats and protocols for their exchange are often incompatible; and the stakeholders involved, such as developers, transport operators, industries, regulatory bodies, and Member States, do not cooperate enough. The Commission’s objective is not to deliver the services, or develop integrated ticket types, but to bring down barriers, to make sure that the appropriate tools are available across the EU and to encourage their use. The EC will lead the cooperation between stakeholders and provide funding opportunities under the Connecting Europe Facility and Horizon2020 funding programs.

EC Vice-President, Siim Kallas, commissioner for mobility and transport, said, “All too often ‘Brussels’ is used as a synonym for ‘heavy regulator’. In ITS, and especially as regards journey planners, we need to take a different path. We need to break down barriers. Small and innovative companies need access to travel data, so that they can develop real door-to-door solutions. And we need more and better cooperation between transport operators, industries, developers and Member States.”

June 17, 2014

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