BusMeister Project

BusMeister was designed to help improve participation in the public transport planning process. We think residents have an excellent “feel” for their neighbourhood and may think of creative ideas not recognised by transport planners. Furthermore, involving residents helps increase support for improvements, especially important for politically sensitive improvements such as bus lanes.

On the other hand, public transport is complex. We think people can develop better improvement ideas if they know more about how public transport works. BusMeister teaches people about public transport in a fun and engaging way, and thereby helps transport agencies obtain better public input and support. (More about the project objectives at BusMeister project description.)

BusMeister consists of an online game, an educational website and wiki, and a crowdsourcing application to collect improvement ideas. BusMeister is designed to be especially useful in:

  • Helping residents understand the benefits of public transport improvements; 
  • Encouraging discussion by creating an informal and fun atmosphere at public meetings;
  • Increasing engagement in public transport planning;
  • Driving traffic to public transport agency websites; and,
  • Increasing community support for public transport.

BusMeister was placed online in 2011. It was awarded a prize for most innovative project in Vienna’s “Die Stadt 2020” (The City 2020) competition and won an honourable mention award from the US TRB’s Public Involvement Committee (2013).

Read more about the project below and contact us if you want more information.

BusMeister Game

In BusMeister players add improvements such as bus lanes or traffic signal priority to an imagined city street and try to achieve target goals for customer satisfaction, operating costs, etc. The game teaches players about the trade-offs involved in public transport planning.

One of the interesting lessons we learned in developing the game was the importance in using a game designer. It’s possible for transport modelling companies to develop games, but since the focus needs to be on creating a fun game, it’s best to use actual game designers.

BusMeister is a Flash game designed for use on a website or Facebook page. The game includes standard game elements including login, high scores, Facebook interface, level locking, and a return to play later function. Unfortunately we took BusMeister off line in July 2015 because of the Flash security vulnerabilities. You can see the game play in our GreenCityStreets Application video (YouTube). Contact me if you’d like to help us develop an HTML5 or Unity version of the game.

Resources:

BusMeister starting screen showing game levels.

BusMeister starting screen showing game levels.

BusMeister street showing traffic flowing.

BusMeister street showing traffic flowing.

BusMeister results screen.

BusMeister results screen.

Improve Public Transport Website

Improve Public Transport Website (2014)

Improve Public Transport Website (2014)

Our website describes six key improvement strategies for improving public transport operations. The goal was to provide easy to understand information and high quality educational material about public transport.

One objective was to reduce the need for every public transport agency to create their own educational materials. If everyone could use the same set of Internet pages to describe basic improvement strategies it would improve the quality and efficiency of the public information process.

Improve Public Transport Wiki

Improve Public Transport Wiki (2014)

Improve Public Transport Wiki (2014)

The Improve Public Transport wiki was designed to provide detailed information about public transport operations. It was designed to supplement the website pages (described above) and is organised around the same six main improvement ideas.

A key goal was creating a wiki that could serve as a constantly updated technical literature review: researchers and transit agencies would add or edit information on the summary pages and create new pages to further describe their results. To achieve this goal  the wiki needs to be “adopted” by an appropriate research project or organisation to provide critical mass and resources for maintenance.

The wiki is still online at: Improve Public Transport Wiki

BusMeister Forum

BusMeister Forum (2013)

BusMeister Forum (2013)

The BusMeister Forum was a public collaboration platform designed to allow residents to suggest and discuss ideas for improving public transport in their community. The idea was that residents would use the BusMeister game, website and wiki to learn strategies for improving public transport and then identify ways of applying those ideas in their community.

The Forum was built on Facebook which had the advantage of increasing the base of users and including concepts for “Liking” and sharing with friends etc. There are many more options for creating this sort of application today. The Forum application worked well, but because it was not connected with a specific project, agency or advocacy organisation, it was not used very much and therefore is no longer online.

Lessons Learned

The project taught us a lot about using applications in the public involvement process and we are using that knowledge in developing new projects. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

What we did right:

  • Used a game designer to develop a fun game;
  • Placed game on Facebook where it was played by many people;
  • Developed a public transport suggestion form on Facebook;
  • Succeeded at developing a prototype integrated public involvement application;
  • Won a prize from the US Transportation Research Board for using technology to communicate complex transport ideas to the public;

What we did wrong:

  • We were unable to find a client (public transport agency or advocacy group) to test the system;
  • The best practices database wiki could have been better designed and organised to eliminate the need for the Word Press pages;

References

GreenCityStreets.com: Using ITS to improve transport planning – Paper presented at ITS World Congress 2012.

Introduction to GreenCityStreets.com – Presentation made at PICNIC Festival 2012 Amsterdam.

GreenCityStreets.com – An Internet Application for Increasing Public Involvement in Public Transportation – paper submitted to US TRB Annual Meeting 2012.

More references on the subject of Apps, Games and Social Media for Transport by Andy Nash.

Acknowledgements

The BusMeister project was assisted by funds from ZIT: The Technology Agency of the City of Vienna (now: Wirtschaftsagentur Wien). The BusMeister game was designed by Platogo, a Vienna game design company. Snizek + Partner Verkehrsplannungs GmbHassisted in developing the website and providing input to the game.

Blog Posts: BusMeister Game

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