Trial of digital screens in new modular bus shelters will commence in August
The digital screens are actually large touch screens and so the trial actually represents quite an interesting use of technology by Auckland Transport, one which has the potential to improve the user experience – although it has some issues too. I went to have a look at the screens which have been installed at two of the trial shelters on Symonds St. Unfortunately the glare from the beautifully sunny day we had on Sunday bouncing off the glass made it difficult to get good photo’s however I can say that in person they were easily readable.
From what I could tell there were two different interfaces that AT seem to be trialling – one at each shelter.
As you can see this is basically a mashing together of different elements into a single interface. There are three main parts to the screen.
- At the top is PT information which includes a journey planner, real time stop board and live map showing bus locations.
- In the middle there’s a combination of other potentially useful info such as news and weather along with advertising. In some cases the entire middle section was devoted to a single ad.
- At the bottom is a game which was when I looked at it was an old school sliding puzzle for promoting the Lantern Festival, output from a security camera plus accessibility and feedback buttons.
Here’s a closer look at the map which is just a standard google map. You can see where the stop is and where the next bus is which is similar to their Track My Bus app. Given the app is sometimes a bit hit and miss for accuracy I hope these are better. For some reason it defaulted the location about the intersection of Mayoral Dr and Vincent St so I had to scroll to show the stop I was at and it returned there later. As you can see it also allows you to select check boxes for various overlays.
I didn’t try it but one issue seems to be that you might be able to get into the settings, that doesn’t seem like a great setup.
— Alice Ge (@A1iGe) August 20, 2015
Screen 2 was in even more direct sunlight so much harder to get a photo of sorry. It also seemed like more effort had gone into the overall design and less of just mashing a whole heap of stuff together. It featured a real time board permanently at the top of the screen along with a scrolling news ticker with other features including routes and journey planner behind buttons. Overall it felt much more like an app I’d expect on a phone and each of the features made use of the entire screen below the real time board.
On the real time board it also seems to show quite clearly shows which buses are accessible by those with disabilities and even how full the bus is. These features are on the version above but aren’t as clear due to trying to cram a lot of information into a smaller area. You can see this and the Approaching Buses screen which also feels quite different to the version above.
Here’s and example what it would look like without the glare
The routes button shows where buses from this stop travel to along with the ability filter out the ones you don’t want.
The journey planner, I didn’t try it out though.
The Local info screen
When not in use the screen defaulted to an AT ad which disappeared as soon as you tapped the screen.
I personally liked the look and feel of the second screen but it also raises some questions.
- How many people just turn up at a bus stop and then want to use a journey planner, I’d have thought most would check out their journey before getting to the bus stop
- Why isn’t this information like the real time location of buses and the routes easily available on the AT website.
- Why haven’t AT turned the second version into a mobile app. Their current apps are appalling.
- Like their current mobile apps will this only be mode specific or will they also integrate trains and ferries into them and install them at rail stations/ferry terminals
Have you used them, what are your thoughts on these new screens and should they be rolled out across more of Auckland?