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Up to date, there are many route guidance systems developed for travellers and pedestrians
However, most of these systems are generic and are addressed to the average population, without taking into account the specific user groups with mobility impairments
A prototype route guidance system for mobility-impaired (MI) travellers was developed for the first time within the ASK-IT Integrated Project (co-funded by the European Commission). This is followed by the OASIS system, a system which is under development and is focused on the elderly users’ special attributes.
ACCESS 2 ALL is a Coordinated Action project, co-financed under the 7 th FP of the EC, composed of 8 European partners
It aims at defining appropriate mobility schemes, guidelines and policy recommendations, ensuring accessibility of Public Transport to all users, including mobility-impaired (MI) travelers, through the:
coordination of current research efforts
production of common research roadmaps
identification of best practices
appropriate use of ICT aids and networks
One of the sub-goals is to develop a holistic and modular travel ability model, considering the needs of different user groups at the planning and operation of public transport services, in order to enhance MI users’ ability to travel.
Novel travelers behaviour model, aiming at the existence of a comparable framework for defining the accessibility of transportation using public transport means for travelers and not at the exact modelling of a traveler’s actions (as is the case with driver behaviour models).
There are 5 main contributors to TRANSPORTABILITY model:
The walking distance and speed are crucial parameters for reliable and user friendly pedestrian route guidance for elderly travellers
This applies to multimodal transport, i.e. the distance needed to cross from one PT mean to another & to reach the station of the PT mean.
Walking distance is a travel-dependent component, generally represented in terms of distance, time, or cost. When referring to “accessibility distance”, the network distance is meant (the distance along the actual travel routes) and this actual distance is used to estimate travel time and cost of a route
Walking speed represents the actual speed that an individual is able to deploy under certain circumstances
It depends a lot upon disability type and physical condition, it could even be said that it is a personalised component
Ability to walk parameters Specific tests are currently on-going at the Hellenic Institute of Transport with 30 users, in order to calculate the average walking speed of various groups, including the elderly
The results that are being gathered through the on-road tests will be inserted in an algorithm, for estimating the walking time in route guidance applications. This application is accessible through a PC tool, which aims:
to enable the user/traveller to find out the duration of the pedestrian route;
to allow PT planners and operators to assess the accessibility level of their service and be guided to relevant best practices.
Thus, there are two functionalities that the tool offers:
1. Estimation of walking time for pedestrian route guidance
2. Accessibility level of PT vehicles, stations and hubs
Different standards exist in PT services, e.g. digital maps of central Europe are standardised by Navtech and Teleatlas, but several other areas have their own protocols (NAVI in Finland, from Topolisz in Hungary, etc.), thus hindering seamless service provision
Differences in telematic infrastructure and lack of service roaming agreements further limit the availability of seamless PT services. This is a problem that is even more severe in countries under development.
The decomposition of the transportation task in sub-tasks and the estimation of the accessibility level of PT means, forms an important input to various services that can be offered on-line, s.a. route guidance, personalized multimodal-trip planning and, in general, personalization of infomobility services for travellers.
This is an important market, as services that match the elderly (and other groups) needs and preferences are totally lacking in todays market.
The proposed PC-based tool can be easily used in all countries (including countries under development), as it can be easily customised and integrated by any PT service provider
What needs to be taken into account is the adaptation of the walking time algorithm to the conditions and concept of each country. E.g. the local pavement infrastructure may differ significantly, thus new measurements for defining the walking speed of the elderly population may be required
The current national accessibility schemes need to be adopted, for the definition of the accessibility level of PT stations, means and hubs. Finally, in case of absence of national accessibility schemes, the ACCESS2ALL scheme can be adopted and it would be a very good and reliable option