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38 CHAPTER SIX CASE STUDIES Several of the transit agencies that responded to the synthe- data” is considered to be “a philosophy and practice requir- sis survey were interviewed by telephone to obtain more ing that certain data are freely available to everyone, without detailed information on their provision of real-time transit restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of information on mobile devices. The results of the interviews control” (66 ). According to the City-Go-Round website (67 ), are presented in this section as case studies. currently, TriMet is one of the 107 transit agencies that pro- vide open data. “Open source” refers to “an approach to the design, development, and distribution of software, offering practical accessibility to a software’s source code” (68). TRI-COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT OF OREGON (PORTLAND, OR) At the same time TriMet embraced an open-data approach TriMet’s operations department began to consider provid- and open-source philosophy, it was focusing on ensuring ing real-time information using DMSs at nearly 100 bus that its data (including real-time information) were in good and rail stops throughout the service area several years ago. shape to be used by others. Its work on using a centralized The cost associated with operating the DMSs was signifi- data approach, which TriMet calls a centralized enterprise cant (e.g., it cost $50 per month for a telephone connection data system, led to the ability to easily extract data for almost to each sign not on the agency’s wide area network). DMSs any purpose. Not only did it help in providing customer display real-time information generated by TriMet’s CAD/ information, but it also was being used to make decisions AVL system. Although customers who were surveyed liked about where to place shelters, what services to provide, and the new DMSs, TriMet realized that deploying more DMSs so forth. When TriMet shared its ideas regarding open data at bus stops throughout the service area might not be sustain- with other U.S. transit agencies at an APTA TransITech con- able. Further, in 2005, TriMet conducted an on-street sur- ference, it discovered that many U.S. transit agencies had vey of riders and determined that 70% of riders had mobile data that were not in good shape. phones. In 2009 and 2010, 73 digital flat-screen displays with real-time arrival information were installed. DMSs will be The open-source and open-data philosophy at TriMet programmed and designed into all future light-rail stations. allowed the creation of an application that populates sched- ules on the Internet. This application is available to anyone The focus of providing real-time information to custom- for no charge. Currently, several transit properties are using it. ers shifted to the IT department to support placing real-time This application provided the opportunity for other develop- information on TriMet’s website and on an IVR system. The ers to add to it. “Since TriMet made its schedule and arrival IT department developed and tested the necessary applica- data available to the public several years ago, independent tions, and then put the new real-time applications in place. programmers have created a number of useful transit tools for TriMet did not advertise these new customer information riders” (69). TriMet’s website lists “some of the free and com- services, but in the first month, the IVR application received mercial applications that are available from third-party devel- 40,000 calls. Its usage has steadily increased since then, with opers using TriMet’s open data” (69). Further, TriMet was 1.7 million calls received in May 2010 (compared with 8.4 the first transit agency in the United States to be on Google million boardings). Transit (Google Transit was launched in December 2005). Part of the evolution of providing real-time information Just prior to making its data open, TriMet recognized that at TriMet was the result of a creative developer and IT man- there were developers who could create innovative mobile ager, who recognized that there were only a few software applications at no cost to TriMet. For example, before the companies that could provide appropriate software. If one of release of the first iPhone, a local Portland resident had an these companies supplied the software, TriMet would have interest in knowing the next two arrivals of the bus and to pay an ongoing maintenance fee. TriMet estimated that streetcar that he rode on a regular basis. He was able to do these kinds of maintenance fees would have been half of the a “screen scrape,” which meant he took data from TriMet’s IT budget; therefore, TriMet took a lead role in the U.S. tran- website and created a website for himself that displayed the sit industry to explore open data and open source. “Open arrival times for the next two buses and streetcars.
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40 As of May 2010, there were 32 third-party applications developed for TriMet, 26 of which were for mobile devices. TriMet provides route-based service alerts, but it is examining the possibility of providing stop-based alerts, which it believes will be more useful to customers. Further, it is looking at formatting and writing the service alerts so that they will comply with SMS restrictions (e.g., number of characters allowed). In terms of information equity, TriMet recognizes that it has more choice riders than any other major city in the United States and that these riders have certain expectations for access to information. The choice riders examine a variety of factors when making the choice to ride transit, including whether the service goes where they need to go, whether or not they have to pay for parking, the frequency of service, the reliability of the service, the amenities available at the stop or station, and the customer information available. In addition, younger riders want to use text messaging to obtain information about transit, but text mes- saging has a cost to both TriMet and the customer. However, on August 16, 2010, TriMet (working with a contractor) introduced a text message service (called TransitTracker by Text) that pro- vides real-time information by means of SMS. As of September 17, 2010, TriMet had received 35,000 texts. This service is sup- ported by advertising, keeping it free to the customer (except for the carrier’s standard text messaging/data rates, if applicable). TriMet provides real-time information and trip planning on mobile phones through http://m.trimet.org (see Figure 39). FIGURE 39 TriMet TransitTracker for wireless devices. However, TriMet recognizes that its core, frequent riders [Source : (72 ).] are low income and often do not have mobile devices. TriMet assesses the information that the core riders need along with the point at which they need the information. In terms of BART was providing transit information to MTC in a comma- pre-trip planning, TriMet still provides a call center that has separated format—there were no open data. Also, there was 20,000 calls per month. The call center allows TriMet to pro- no support within the agency to develop and sustain additional duce fewer print materials and better serve low-income and mobile applications. There was an e-mail list of 95,000 people older riders. In terms of information at the stop, riders are who wanted to be notified of transit advisories. Shortly after informed about the span of service rather than the schedule. this time, the Palm was no longer the mobile device of choice. The span of service rarely changes, so TriMet does not have to replace the print information at the stop as often as if the Since then, BART has determined that it is much more schedule were posted. Schedules are posted at high-volume cost-effective to focus its efforts on the data, not develop- boarding areas. TriMet covers all riders by providing the call ing mobile applications. Currently, its website is managed center and information on the Internet (TriMet determined by two staff; it would be challenging for such a small staff that many low-income riders do have access to a computer). to develop applications for the myriad mobile devices on the market. Further, the IT department is focused on operating Overall, TriMet’s philosophy is that customer informa- and maintaining internal business systems, not the website tion is part of its core business, not just a nice thing to do. or mobile applications. Thus, third-party application devel- Further, it sees providing real-time information on mobile opers have access to BART’s data as they are now open, and devices as a way to maintain or increase ridership. unlike TriMet, developers do not have to register. However, each developer is subject to a developer’s license agreement. And if a developer wants an API validation key, it must apply for one. Figure 40 shows BART’s developer website and Fig- BAY AREA RAPID TRANSIT DISTRICT (OAKLAND, CA) ure 41 shows BART’s developer license agreement. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, BART developed its own BART has provided open data services to third party applications for the Palm operating system. At this time, developers since 2007, which power 26 separate
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41 applications on more than 20 platforms including Google BART provides a menu of mobile options (see Figure and Google Maps, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm 42) in addition to the 31 third-party applications (as of May Pre, Mac OSX, Twitter, Facebook and more. There 2010) available either free or for a small fee. The BART are more than 1,200 BART developers subscribed to mobile website (see Figure 43) provides access to real-time [BART’s] opt-in list, and some BART apps, such as iBART for iPhone, have nearly 150,000 users (73). information, as does the SMS application (see Figure 44). FIGURE 40 BART’s developer’s website. FIGURE 41 BART’s developer license agreement.
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42 FIGURE 42 BART’s mobile options. FIGURE 43 BART mobile website. FIGURE 44 BART real-time information by means of SMS.
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43 BART continued its foray into open data and providing after that. In addition, BART has partnered with Google to real-time information on mobile devices by surveying cus- make its data available for applications developed around tomers in 2009 regarding the mobile “space.” This survey Google Maps, including Google Maps for Mobile (74). “of BART riders who use mobile devices has found strong demand for new and existing applications. The survey was Also, BART recognizes that there is a gap between cus- initiated by BART’s website team to evaluate the market for tomer needs and developer skills. BART’s frame of reference new mobile services.” BART shared the survey findings with is how customers look at BART versus BART’s competitors. the developer community. “Without in-house developers to The expectation within that frame of reference is that, for create new applications, and in a time of extremely limited example, a customer can find out when there is congestion on budget resources, it’s a way for BART to foster the kind of the road—this will influence the decision to ride BART. Fur- innovation that ultimately will benefit customers. ‘We’re try- ther, although the developers are striving for a successful ven- ing to give our developer network the information it needs to ture to support customers, the developers may not be meeting build the kind of applications that our customers want,’ said customers’ needs. BART continues to be aware of all custom- Timothy Moore, BART website manager.” BART’s moving ers, recognizing that there are many different kinds of riders from being the primary application provider to data provider of (e.g., different cultures and those with cognitive and literacy has facilitated this shift in focus. issues). This awareness of customers is BART’s philosophy. The results of this survey, to which more than 6,500 cus- BART has used social networking, primarily in response tomers responded, included the following: to the market in San Francisco. During regular business hours, BART supplies a Twitter feed with real-time delay • “Smartphones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry were advisories. As mentioned earlier in the report, BART is the the mobile devices most frequently used by those sur- fi rst U.S. transit agency to partner with Foursquare (75). veyed, followed by iPods, other media players, regular This partnership creates a way to push real-time informa- cellphones and PDAs such as Palm OS. Other devices tion in a unique way. Foursquare users “check in” in real noted by survey respondents included portable video time to a particular BART station, affording them the oppor- game players such as the Sony PSP and ebook readers tunity to become a “mayor” of that station. Checking into such as the Amazon Kindle.” specific venues allows users to earn “badges.” As part of the • “Existing mobile applications—both those created by partnership, Foursquare is offering a BART-themed badge. BART and those from third-party developers—are This type of LBS may legitimize the BART experience for not widely known and have much potential for greater a certain set of riders. In an April 2010 survey to determine use.” the value of the Foursquare application (76 ), • “Most survey respondents would prefer not to pay for almost 70% of the respondents indicated they ‘check in’ trip planning or other transit applications but are will- when using BART and just over 40% recall recommending ing to use ad-supported free programs.” places near BART to Foursquare friends. Almost 20% • “More than a third of respondents plan to purchase a of respondents recall making a BART trip because of a Foursquare recommendation and 14% indicated they new mobile device within one year.” r ide BART more often because of Foursquare. Over half of respondents indicated that Foursquare has a positive BART examined how customers using mobile devices i mpact on their BART riding experience (76, p. 2). obtain their information: • “Printed schedules on brochures and wall signs in Another unique application based on BART’s API is a stations.” partnership with junaio, which is an augmented reality appli- • “Electronic messages on overhead platform signs and cation (77 ): station announcements, both of which contain real- BART and junaio have partnered to integrate transit data, time information.” such as station locations and estimated arrival times, into • “The BART mobile website, which has real-time a BART channel on the junaio 2.0 augmented reality information.” platform. With mobile augmented reality technology, users can see digital content such as text or graphics • “ Native applications that passengers download in overlaid on real objects on their mobile phones. Junaio advance to their devices, and which do not require an lets users tag photos, audio and text in the real world and Internet connection.” leave digital “crumbs” behind at particular locations for others to explore. For example, a rider coming out of the Montgomery BART Station in San Francisco could see There have been some notable successes, such as the free recommendations left by friends for restaurants or shops iBART application for iPhone developed by two college stu- to try that are nearby that station. Or, simply by pointing dents, which has received positive customer reviews. The the camera on her phone, a user could find the direction of the nearest BART station and get a list of estimated day the iPhone application store opened, there was a BART a rrivals for the next several trains to her destination (77 ). application. Real-time applications came just a few months
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44 oped, there was a desire to improve service headways and LEETRAN (LEE COUNTY/FORT MYERS, FL) implement a marketing campaign to get beach and island LeeTran operates service in Lee County, Florida, with 61 travelers out of their cars. fi xed-route vehicles, 44 demand-response vehicles, and seven vanpool vehicles. Its 18 fixed routes provide over 3 The town then procured the ASP’s real-time information million trips per year. LeeTran’s fixed-route services are system with the intent to pay for the capital expense, but then divided into two categories: traditional fixed-route ser- turned the system over to LeeTran to operate and maintain. vice and trolley resort services provided during winter and The town of Fort Myers Beach provided the capital needed spring. LeeTran provides real-time information on mobile to purchase the system, and now Lee Tran is responsible for devices using an ASP only for its trolley resort services. It is the system’s operation (and pays annually for the system’s considering expanding the current mobile information to its operation using 100% county funds). regular fixed-route service. In the second year of operation, the real-time informa- The system that provides real-time information on mobile tion system was expanded because, initially, not all the devices consists of a GPS receiver, a GPS antenna, and a beach trolley vehicles had been equipped. Although LeeT- mobile data terminal (through which vehicle operators log ran already had “choice” riders in the area where the beach into the system) on each of the 11 vehicles that operate the t rolley service was provided, the implementation of the beach trolley service. The ASP’s software uses data col- real-time information system definitely attracted even more lected as the vehicles operate to estimate when each vehicle choice riders. Further, ridership on the trolley service dou- will arrive at each stop on the trolley routes. These real-time bled after the implementation of the system, but it is hard to arrival time estimates are disseminated by means of SMS isolate the real-time information as directly contributing to or the ASP’s mobile website. In addition, DMSs displaying that increase in ridership. the same real-time information are located at four key stops along the trolley routes: Summerlin Square, Bowditch Park, There were two primary challenges in implementing this Lynn Hall Park, and the Main Street parking lot. There is system. First, once everything in the system was installed, interest in expanding the number of signs to other locations initial tests yielded inaccurate real-time information. Obser- within the beach zones where the trolley service operates. vations were made in the field of actual times and compared with the arrival times being calculated by the system. The Although this system is primarily for providing real- initial deployment coincided with the winter high tourist time information to customers, dispatchers use it to monitor season, which was when there were high levels of traffic service. Dispatchers can see where there is congestion and congestion on the island. LeeTran worked with the ASP mitigate potential service issues by using the information to solve the problem, which was done by eliminating the generated by the system. system’s use of timetables. During the height of the tour- ist season (winter and early spring), the system uses vehicle LeeTran pays the ASP an annual fee of $18,150 for the location and speed to compute the arrival times at each stop, service. This price is based on the number of equipped rather than using the schedule to calculate “schedule adher- vehicles and the number of DMSs in the field. In the initial ence” and subsequently calculate arrival times. This solution deployment of the system, LeeTran considered the portion has been employed ever since it was developed—at nonpeak of the annual fee that went toward cellular communications times of the year, the system goes back to calculating sched- (which the ASP uses to communicate vehicle location and ule adherence to estimate arrival times. other operational data to a central system and communicate real-time information to the DMSs) too high. Two years after Second, initially, it was challenging for customers to use the initial deployment of the system, LeeTran deployed an mobile devices to obtain the real-time information. This was AVL system for its demand-response fleet and found a cel- because tourists were often not familiar with the actual stop lular carrier with lower prices. LeeTran negotiated with the f rom which they wanted to use the trolley service. LeeTran ASP to obtain a lower cost cellular carrier, thus reducing the eliminated that problem by adding a four-digit number to annual fee that LeeTran paid the ASP. each bus stop sign so that customers could identify by num- ber the stop for which they were obtaining real-time infor- The initial deployment of this system was accomplished mation. Further, several of the resorts began publishing the in 2004–2005 in partnership with the town of Fort Myers stop number on their check-in literature; as soon as travelers Beach, which is an island community and one of the larg- checked into the hotel, they would know immediately which est destinations in Lee County. The town was interested in stop was closest to the hotel and the number of that stop. using public transportation as a solution to the congestion problems on the island. The town and LeeTran developed a Ongoing operations and maintenance of the system are the menu of strategies to try to mitigate the beach and on-island responsibility of the principal planner for LeeTran, with the congestion. At the same time the strategies were being devel- marketing division, service planners, and maintenance staff
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45 responsible for specific aspects of the system, such as sched- TfL has stated that it “hope[s] that our announcement ule changes (which then have to be input into the system). [of opening data in June 2010] will result in new relation- LeeTran staff observe the system in the field on a spot-check ships between the open data community and TfL/London’s basis to determine the system’s accuracy and reliability, and DataStore. We know from international experience that the input is provided also by customers who use the system. No majority of smartphone apps built on public data are focused one is regularly assigned to perform the system spot checks. around the reuse of public transport data” (80 ). TfL conducted demonstrations several years ago to test the potential for introducing mobile applications using real-time TRANSPORT FOR LONDON (LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM) information. First, from December 2006 through November 2007, TfL conducted a demonstration called Visualisation TfL’s approach to providing real-time information on mobile of Real-Time Transport Interchange (VORTIX). VORTIX devices was different from those described in the TriMet and used NFC technology embedded in 19 “touchpoint” posters BART case studies up until June 2010. Although TriMet and in the Blackfriars London Underground station: BART embrace open data and open source, TfL did not offi- When a NFC-enabled mobile phoned is placed against the cially release its data to the public. (Some data were made smart poster, even if deep underground, it will pinpoint available to the public but required that developers obtain t he exact location of the passenger and then transmit permission to use the data.) Prior to June 2010, real-time detailed information including where to go to make the next stage of the journey, how to get there, how long the information on mobile devices was limited to travel alerts, t ransfer will take and when the next service will arrive. which could be received through e-mail or SMS. Alerts are based on incident information that is entered into the system in the respective control room where the incident is being This information includes all modes of transport in the managed. The same information is available on the TfL and vicinity of Blackfriars: Tube; National Rail; buses and river London Underground websites (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ and services (81). http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modalpages/2625.aspx). “Once an incident is listed, it’s available to the public over the web and VORTIX, funded by the Department for Trade and mobile internet (WAP) in a few seconds” (78). SMS alerts Industry, was a collaboration among TfL, Imperial College are limited to two per day because “Mobile operators charge of London, and Kizoom. This was the first demonstration of us [TfL] for every message that we send, and this limit is providing en-route customer information using NFC tech- imposed to keep everyone’s costs down” (79). TfL provides nology (see Figure 45). other mobile services, such as trip planning (through SMS or Second, there were seven real-time mobile demonstration mobile web), live travel news by means of mobile web, time- projects: tables, and other information such as congestion charging. The projects [were] demonstrations of potential mobile usage of a future real-time integration programme (RTIP) In June 2010, TfL opened much of its data to the public. system that will set the vision of the programme and Initially, “information on planned weekend Tube works, the attempt to innovate regarding end-customer information location of stations, licensed taxi operators, Oyster card top- solutions (staff and passengers). The demonstrators [were] installed to work in the RTIP data lab and scale[d] up points and piers on the River Thames” (80 ) was provided to up to 100 users (82). to developers. As of September 2010, the following types of public transport data were available on London’s DataStore (http://data.london.gov.uk/), which was established by the The demonstrations were not pilot projects—they were Greater London Authority (GLA) to provide access to data just meant to demonstrate innovative real-time services that held and generated by the GLA and other public sector orga- could be delivered by means of mobile devices. The demon- nizations in London: strations had four primary objectives: • TfL station locations, • Examine the content that TfL already had and how it • TfL timetable listings, could be disseminated, • 2008 public transport accessibility levels, • Examine the form or format in which the content would • TfL cycle hire locations, be presented, • 2009 TfL origin and destination survey, • Assess the usefulness of providing the content, and • TfL bus stop locations and routes, • Determine the feasibility of developing such applications. • Oyster ticket stop locations, • London Underground signals passed at danger, Several of the demonstration projects of note were • TfL pier locations, • R iver boat timetables, and • Visual scene analysis—Underground platform con- • Accessibility of London Underground stations. gestion: The demonstration used visual scene analysis
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46 text, and if there are service disruptions, the system will dynamically replan the trip. • London mapping demonstration: Showcase of London mapping for the following purposes: – Superimposing TfL real-time data on a map, – Superimposing planned routes/route suggestions on a map, – Placing points of interest on a map, – Placing stops/stations on a map, – Placing user objects on a map, and – Placing events on a map (location/time duration). • Converged personalized service delivery: A framework for TfL services that operates in delivering novel ser- vices to mobile, PC, and set-top box environments. The framework assisted in the seamless communication of informational, application, and presence information across users’ personal wide area network, enabling all of users’ devices to participate in TfL applications. Unfortunately, owing to funding issues, none of these demonstrations was considered for full-scale deployment. TfL’s philosophy regarding providing real-time informa- tion on mobile devices can be described as follows: • TfL has a desire to shape the data that would be used to FIGURE 45 VORTIX handset display. [Source : (83 ).] provide information to customers using certain rules, thus influencing the behavior of the customers using techniques to gauge the level of congestion on the St. the information. James’ Park Underground station. Important features • TfL considers customer relationship management as include the following: one of the most important factors in building trust – Reduction in data from visual image to a low-band- among customers as well as in determining the nature width data item such as a count of the number of of real-time information that could be provided on people on the platform; and mobile devices. – Employment of image recognition systems to moni- • Information dissemination should focus on the logical tor crowding. design, not the technical design (suppliers/vendors are • Converged personalized “countdown” service for capable of providing the technical design). mobiles: The converged personalized “countdown” • A toolkit that provides information governance to service enabled passengers to view the countdown ensure that information is properly categorized, pro- information for both buses and tubes on their mobiles/ tected, managed, and disseminated is a catalyst for PDAs for a limited number of selected stops. For both making it easier to provide the most timely and perti- buses and tube lines, passengers could select desired nent information to each customer. stops/stations into a personalized monitor in which they could see the real time for the selected platforms/ In terms of shaping the data and customer behavior, TfL stops. There was a limit to the number for stops/sta- provided the following example: If there were severe con- tions that each user could monitor. gestion at Victoria Station, one of the busiest stations in • Mobile avatar solution—“Journey Angel”: This proj- London (containing National Rail, London buses and Lon- ect demonstrated a mobile avatar system prototype to don Underground, and taxi service), it would be ideal for assist the passenger throughout the trip chain: pre-trip, customers to react in a variety of different ways so that the en route, and post-trip. The avatar can be expanded to congestion does not become more severe. To control 30% perform all advisory/decision support actions for TfL to 40% of the customers using Victoria Station, real-time on the mobile client including actions such as incident information could be tailored using certain rules and person- alerting, zone entry/exit, agreements to pay, delay alization so that 10% of the customers would decide to con- alerting, and planning support. It included the dynamic tinue their journey with no interruption, 10% would decide monitoring of the user’s location, voice rendering of to interrupt their journey by getting off the train they are
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47 on, and 10% would decide to get coffee. This “control” of ensure an appropriate level of interaction (a well-informed the mitigation strategies to relieve congestion requires a high customer requires less manual customer service) and trust. degree of personalization and integration of real-time infor- mation, intimate knowledge of customers’ behaviors when In terms of information equity, TfL provides elevator and provided with specific information, and knowledge of how escalator status updates, as well as quality of service informa- the overall system will react when real-time information is tion. There are either manual or electronic boards in each sta- disseminated. tion that show the status of the whole system. Further, system status is provided on TfL’s website (see Figure 46). There are Currently, TfL is subject to local legislation and the origi- onboard voice announcements as a result of the iBus proj- nal U.K. Citizen’s Charter (which defines a quality of ser- ect. The majority of service information is provided through vice), which promotes the release of public information and nonmobile channels. The majority of information access is making public content available. The Citizen’s Charter has the use of TfL’s journey planner—100 million journey plans been replaced with the Customer Service Excellence stan- are created every month. The journey planner is available for dard, which— mobile devices, but it has somewhat limited capability. Lim- ited service bulletins are available by means of SMS. is to encourage, enable and reward organisations that are delivering services based on a genuine understanding of the needs and preferences of their customers and communities. The foundation of this tool is the [U.K.’s] Government’s Customer Service Excellence standard which tests in great depth those areas that research has indicated are a priority for customers, with particular focus on delivery, timeliness, information, professionalism and staff attitude. There is also emphasis placed on developing customer insight, understanding the user’s experience and robust measurement of service satisfaction (84 ). Indeed, the U.K. Customer Service Excellence standard and TfL’s philosophy regarding information governance and customer relationship management are closely aligned. But until an information governance toolkit and funding are available to make the business case, providing real-time information by means of mobile devices will continue to be somewhat limited. In the meantime, TfL is focusing on continually strengthening its relationships with customers to FIGURE 46 TfL service status.