Newslinks | 29th August 2007

LondonUnlocked, The NewsEditor

Transport Information in Real Time? ZNet reports that TfL is trialling a high-tech travel information around Blackfriars station, allowing passengers to gain real-time accurate travel advice for the next stage of their journey. (reprinted in full below, and added to the projects section of the site)

Transport for London's trial will let passengers receive real-time travel information by placing their mobiles on 'touchpoint' posters Transport for London is testing the potential for near field technology to transmit travel advice to mobile phones.

London's Blackfriars station is the site of a three-month trial using near field communication (NFC) technology embedded in "touchpoint" posters to transmit travel advice to the public.

When a passenger places their NFC-enabled mobile against a poster, it will pinpoint their exact location and transmit detailed information, including where to go to make the next stage of the journey, how to get there, how long the transfer will take and when the next service will arrive.

"The transfer from one mode of transport to another is the most difficult part of a journey," a Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson told GC News on Friday.

"This system is about providing accurate, real-time information for passengers. It covers all modes of transport near Blackfriars, including the tube, rail, bus and river services."

Passengers can touch the poster and receive information about travel to a particular destination, including local attractions and landmarks. The posters do not require a power source, but instead are powered by induction from the mobile-phone handset.

The project, named "Vortix" (Visualisation of Real-Time Transport Interchange), is a collaboration between Transport for London, Imperial College London and transport intelligence company Kizoom.

Mike Beizsley, who is leading Vortix, said: "This trial is a European first for providing customer in-journey information via NFC. It is an exciting step for TfL's real-time programme's aim of delivering a new generation of timely, multi-modal and personalised information to its passengers."

Future rollout of Vortix will be assessed after the completion of the trial.

This is exactly the sort of technology which LondonUnlocked wishes to promote - simple schemes which build confidence in the availability and flexibility of the network. If more transport hubs had working schemes such as this, less people would be inclined to drive or to hop in a taxi, creating more congestion and pollution.

Freight Loading Times to be Reviewed reports that the FTA (Freight Transport Association) is in talks with Westminster City Council over freight loading times.

This is a big issue, especially in central London where parking is at a premium and movement restricted for large vehicles at any time except the early hours. LondonUnlocked believes that containerization should be looked at as part of a wider London strategy by the Mayor's office as a way of combating this growing problem.

Business Rate Raise for Major Transport Projects?

The Centre for Cities Thinktank has issued a report suggesting that cities should be able to levy a supplementary business rate to raise funds for major transport projects such as Crossrail, reports the Guardian:

Local authorities could raise £10bn for transport projects including London's Crossrail through a business rate increase, according to a report published today. A supplementary business rate would allow big cities across Britain to borrow a total of £10bn that could fund schemes such as revamping Birmingham New Street station and the extension of the Metrolink in Manchester. The report, by the Centre for Cities thinktank, says the move could give local businesses a greater say in decision-making provided they were able to sit down with local authorities and discuss how to implement the rate raise.