Door to door timetable information from starting point to destination, including local public transport as well as long-distance railway or airline transport, calculation of total travel times, information about fares and maps – these are modules of the EU-Spirit service that makes cross-border travelling by public transport much easier than in the past.
Door-to-door travel information used to be available when starting point and destination are located in the same area only. Most attempts to overcome these information gaps have been based on setting up central data bases where all data of different transport operators is stored. However, these systems provide many disadvantages:
- User friendliness: the user has only access to this data when contacting the service provider of the central travel information system directly;
- Costs and accuracy: the maintenance of data is time consuming and difficult to handle because each time table change in any local system has to be integrated in the central data base immediately in order to avoid to give information that is out-of-date;
- Content: Local and regional information systems more and more offer real time and disturbance information, which is hardly to be offered in a central service.
Via the European travel information service EU-Spirit, these problems are able to be solved by combining information from different existing information services and generating continuous itineraries. EU-Spirit is not an independent information system but is based on crosslinking local, regional, and national travel information systems. Therefore, EU-Spirit is only involved when the customer needs to use more than one travel planner. That is, for instance, when a customer does not only want to travel within a regional transport service area or between two main stations but instead needs an itinerary from one local stop to another local stop which are located in different regions. The itineraries cover all kinds of public transport from different suppliers (e.g. local bus/tram/rail as well as long-distance rail or flight transport). Travel itinerary information is created by composing information of all participating services via open interfaces and harmonised meta information. Optimising techniques are used when searching for continuous itineraries in order to best meet the customer’s demand.