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Marius Skuodis: Real-time public transport information must also be available for regular long-distance and international transport, including train travel 

Date

2022 09 22

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Today, to mark World Car-Free Day, an innovation is being presented in the country’s major cities: real-time public transport information is now available to passengers in Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda when planning a trip through the Google Maps app. According to Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis, who presented and has tested the innovation himself, this successful example is not a goal, but an intermediate step toward the creation of a unified Lithuanian public transport system.

Previously, only static public transport information was available to passengers, i.e. which stop the public transport they need will come to and which route it will take. From now on, passengers will be able to use their smartphones to see dynamic data – the movement of the vehicle in real time, where all delays or even non-arrivals are also visible.

“We started with Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda primarily because they have the largest public transport and passenger flows, as well as traffic jams during peak hours, which prompt people to look for alternatives to private transport. In order for a person to at least start considering public transport as a possible alternative, it must first of all be convenient. And convenient public transport is one where passengers can view the location and status at any time on their phones,” said Minister Skuodis at the presentation, which was held at the V. Kudirka public transport stop in Vilnius.

The new functionality was implemented on the streets of Lithuania’s largest cities by the Ministry of Transport, in cooperation with Google, and Communications together with the Create Lithuania project, the municipalities, and their main carriers – Susisiekimo Paslaugos, Kauno Autobusai and Klaipėda Transport.

The system is updating the real-time public transport information every 20 seconds. 

According to the minister, the aim is to create a common public transport information system for sustainable multimodal travel by local, long-distance, rail and water transport. This would also create tangible financial benefits, both for carriers and the state.

“Real-time public transport location data not only guarantees more convenient and accurate trips and facilitates the movement of tourists around Lithuania – it also increases returns to service providers. Research shows that conveniently accessible static information – stops, timetables, routes – can increase the number of passengers by up to three per cent, while dynamic real-time information can boost this number by another two per cent. In Vilnius alone, one per cent would amount to a third of a million euros in income per year,” calculated Minister Skuodis.

Deputy Mayor of Vilnius Tomas Gulbinas says that Vilnius’s goal is to attract as many passengers as possible to public transport. 

“This year, we reached the pre-pandemic number of passengers in public transport, which other cities cannot yet boast of. Smart tools that help plan public transport trips in real time help to attract passengers, and a global tool like Google Maps is especially useful for the city’s guests,” says Mr Gulbinas.

After data from the municipalities are uploaded in global standard format into VINTRA, the multifunctional public transport travel data information system managed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, they sync instantly to virtually any travel planning tool, whether it be Google Maps, or other web mapping service, such as Apple Maps or Bing Maps, which are preparing to enter Lithuania.

An analysis of the current situation carried out by the Ministry of Transport and Communications revealed that some Lithuanian municipalities do not have any digitised data available to passengers at all. Some of the other carriers do not provide them either. When information is not available or not updated, it creates obstacles for smooth travel planning, especially with different modes of transport. The ministry is looking forward to seeing more active cooperation and involvement from municipalities and carriers.