Playing BusMeister

Bus Meister is a computer game designed to teach people how to improve the attractiveness and efficiency of public transport (PT) service. BusMeister has 12 levels from simple to difficult. The object of Bus Meister is to increase the happiness of public transport passengers, reduce the costs of operating public transport and minimize inconvenience to other roadway users (i.e. car drivers). The game is part of the BusMeister project.

This page describes how to play BusMeister:

More details about parts of the game are provided at the bottom of the page:

1. Starting Bus Meister

Start the game by clicking here: Play BusMeister! (Flash game disabled – June 2015)

After the game loads you will see the screen above. You can:

  • Login – click here if you have already signed-up with our system;
  • Sign-up – click here if you want to sign-up using our system to store your scores and level information in our system (this means your scores and level information will be saved so you can continue playing later);
  • Login with Facebook – to play with your friends and use the social networking tools (your scores and level information will be saved); or
  • Play without Login – your scores will not be saved and you will need to start from Level 1 next time you want to play.

Next simply click on the “1” box at the left side of the screen to go to the first level.

NOTE (December 2014): The game is no longer available on Facebook and the login features (including leader board, etc.) are no longer available. We’ll put the game back on Facebook in the future if there is sufficient demand. In the meantime, you can play all levels without playing through all the previous levels.

Starting BusMeister

Starting BusMeister

2. BusMeister: Level 1

After clicking the “1” box, BusMeister displays the level information screen (shown in the figure below). This screen tells you the level objective.

In levels 1 and 2 BusMeister provides guided help to walk you though the game providing information about game features and information displays. It’s a little long, so if you want to skip it (you can always read the instructions here) simply click on “Guided Help”.

Click “Start” to begin BusMeister. You will be taken to the BusMeister Street screen for your level. The figure below illustrates the main features of the BusMeister street for Level 1.

You will see the following things on the street shot:

  • Top: Route stick map (buses are displayed on this map).
  • Buildings: Buildings indicate how many potential passengers are available: bigger buildings = more passengers.
  • Street: The street where buses and private vehicles operate.
  • Level Info (in this case: Tutorial) – Presents information on the problem to be solved in this game level and the required targets.
  • Simulate Panel (the gear icon) – Click on the “Play” button to start the game. The simulate panel opens presenting players with a simulation speed control and real time results for a variety of performance measures (see below).
  • Tools Menu – Click here to open the tab that presents the improvements (e.g. bus stops) that players can add/delete/move on the route (see below).

NOTE: The whole street is not displayed on the screen! Scroll right/left by placing the mouse button on the right/left side of the street to move in that direction or use the mouse to move the light blue shaded area in the Route Stick Map at the top of the page.

BusMeister Level Information Screen (Level 1)

BusMeister Level Information Screen (Level 1)

BusMeister Game: Annotated screenshot

BusMeister Game: Annotated screenshot

3. Playing Bus Meister: Step-by-Step

The general process for playing BusMeister is:

  1. Read about the level and goal;
  2. Press “Play” to run the simulation to see the initial conditions;
  3. Scroll to see the entire street by moving the mouse to the left and right sides of the screen at street level;
  4. Speed up the simulation using the slide bar;
  5. Stop the simulation and add improvements using the tools or settings panels. For information on improvements and settings please see Public Transport Improvements (Tools Panel) or Transport Operations Settings (Settings Panel);
  6. Press “Play” to re-run the simulation with the new measures and compare results with your previous runs.
  7. Continue adjusting the measures until you reach the level goal and maximize your bonus points.
  8. Move on to the next level.

In Level 1 the goal is relatively easy: making the customers more satisfied. Level 1 starts with only one bus stop and people are unhappy since they need to walk a long distance. Use the Tools Panel to add bus stops. It’s possible to gain extra points by carefully adjusting the bus stops to reduce costs while keeping the customers happy. Higher levels are more difficult.

4. Running BusMeister

After pressing the “Play” button BusMeister runs a simulation of the improvements you have placed on the street. The number of buses and cars changes with each level (in higher levels you can control the number of buses operating). The cars and buses interact so there is some variability in the game. As the game is running BusMeister displays real time statistics as shown in the figure below.

The figure shows what you will see as BusMeister runs through the simulation. Some hints:

  • You can control the speed of the simulation using the slide tool to the right of the “Play” button;
  • You can select which statistics and happy faces are displayed (see Statistics);
  • In this view the player has played the level once, then made changes to the improvements and this is the second attempt. This is shown by the two yellow lines in the real time happiness graph: the light line is the first attempt and the dark line is the second attempt. This information is important so you can see if the changes you made improve the situation or make it worse.

See BusMeister Statistics for more information on the statistics and how to choose which to display.

BusMeister: Real time statistics displayed as game runs

BusMeister: Real time statistics displayed as game runs

5. BusMeister Results

When the simulation is completed BusMeister displays the results panel telling you how well you did in terms of the required goals and the bonus point targets. The Results Panel is illustrated in the figure below.

The Results Panel tells you how well you did and gives you several options on what to do next. Here are some of the main points in the figure:

  • At the top is information on this level’s required goal. The target is shown on the left of the slider control and my score is shown on the right. The green “check mark” shows I met the required goal.
  • If I click on the “Continue” button I will go on to the next level – but I may want to try to increase my score on the current level, if so I just click the brown “X” in the upper right hand corner of the results panel.
  • The bottom shows the bonus goals for this level. Again the target is shown on the left side of the slider control and my score is shown on the right. Green “check marks” show which goals I have met and red “Xs” show which bonus goals I have not reached. In this case I met 3 of the 4 bonus goals.
  • My total score for the level is shown at the bottom of the results panel.
  • You can click on the “Leader Board” button to see how well you have done on this level compared to other players.

At this point you decide whether to replay the level to increase your score or go onto the next level. Click on:

  • “Continue” to go to the next level;
  • “X” to close the results panel and replay the current level.

The next sections provide more details on how to add improvements to the street, how to change the public transport vehicle settings and how to understand the BusMeister statistics.

BusMeister: Results panel

BusMeister: Results panel

6. Public Transport Improvements (Tools Panel)

The Tools Panel enables players to add, remove or move improvement measures to the street. The number of improvement measures increases with the game level. The screenshot below illustrates the Tools Panel for Level 2: players can add stations and traffic signals.

Some key features of the Tools Panel are annotated in the figure including:

  • Use the arrows on the right and left sides to scroll through the available improvement measures (in Level 2 only two measures are available but in higher levels you need to scroll to see all the available measures);
  • Each block illustrates the measure, displays the cost and the remaining number of times you can add the measure to the street;
  • On the street, clicking on a measure highlights it and allows you to move or delete it from_the streets (if you delete it you receive a credit for it in the Tools Panel);
  • All streets must have at least one station so you cannot delete the last station!

There are three main types of improvements available: stations, traffic signals and congestion reduction/bus lanes. The following text describes how to add, delete or move improvements (measures). The measures themselves are described below.

Moving and Removing Improvements

Here’s how to move or remove an improvement from the street:

  1. Click on the measure you want to move/remove: it is highlighted in green and the move/remove panel is displayed.
  2. Choose the “arrow” to move the measure and the “X” to remove the measure.
  3. If you are moving the measure simply drag it where you want it on the street. Releasing the mouse button places it.
  4. If you are removing the measure it automatically re-appears in your Tools Panel for use later.

A Note on Moving Stations

It’s often especially helpful to move stations. A small change in location can significantly improve customer happiness and/or can enable you to reduce the number of stations on your route: thus reducing cost and increasing happiness. (This is also true in the real world!)

Adding an Improvement

Add an improvement to the street:

  1. Click on the measure you want to add to the street in the Tools Panel.
  2. Measure is highlighted in green and information about the measure is displayed.
  3. Locations where you can add the selected improvement are highlighted in yellow on the street.
  4. Click on the yellow highlighted area where you want to add the improvement … improvement is added.
  5. Repeat process for all improvements you want to add.
BusMeister Tools Panel: Level 2

BusMeister Tools Panel: Level 2

BusMeister: Moving and Removing Measures from the street.

BusMeister: Moving and Removing Measures from the street.

BusMeister: Adding an improvement to the street.

BusMeister: Adding an improvement to the street.

  • Bus Meister has three station types: basic, shelter and shelter + information system; players can also add a bus bulb to any station.

    Adding a station makes it easier for passengers to reach a station, but increases public transport travel time (and cost); removing a station has the opposite effects.

    Station type impacts passenger happiness. Passengers are:

    • happiest at stations with info systems (since they know that the bus is coming),
    • middle happy when they have a shelter, and
    • least happy when they only have a place to stand.

    Bus bulbs reduce the amount of time buses spend stopped at stations (thereby increasing passenger happiness and reducing operating costs).

    BusMeister Game: Stations measures
    BusMeister Game: Stations measures
  • Bus Meister has two types of traffic signal: regular and public transport priority.

    Public transport priority traffic signals provide more green time if a public transport vehicle is near the intersection and starts the green phase early if a public transport vehicle is waiting in the traffic queue.

    Where there are no traffic signals the default is stop sign, if you remove a traffic signal the intersection automatically gets a stop sign. The stop sign is the worst option since it requires all vehicles to stop, creating a lot of congestion.

    BusMeister: Traffic signal measures
    BusMeister: Traffic signal measures
  • BusMeister allows you to add three different levels of congestion reduction to the street. These reduce the number of cars in the bus lane by 30%, 60% and 90%. The game also allows you to add a Bus Only Lane (which eliminates 100% of the cars from the bus lane).

    This measure is intended to model exclusive public transport lanes as well as techniques used to reduce the amount of congestion on streets where public transport operates (e.g. traffic restrictions, traffic calming programs and congestion charging programs).

    You can add the measure at an intersection and it works until the next intersection. At this point the cars attempt to move back into the bus lane. To model a two block bus lane you need to add the measure to two consecutive intersections.

    BusMeister: Traffic reduction and bus lane measures
    BusMeister: Traffic reduction and bus lane measures

7. Public Transport Operations Settings (Settings Tool)

In advanced levels of the game, the Settings Tool enables players to define the type of vehicles used, the vehicle frequency (headway) and the type of fare collection system. The Settings Tool is displayed in the figure below.

Some key features of the Settings Panel are annotated in the figure including:

  • You can choose which type of vehicle to use: standard buses or articulated buses. Information about the selected vehicle type is presented below the figure.
  • You can increase or decrease the vehicle headway by clicking on the arrows. (All times in BusMeister are compressed to make playing more interesting.)
  • You can choose whether to have passengers pay on board the vehicle or before boarding.

For more information about any BusMeister feature please contact us.

BusMeister: Settings panel

BusMeister: Settings panel

8. BusMeister Statistics

BusMeister automatically calculates a wide variety of performance statistics during the simulation. These statistics are used to determine whether or not you have met the Level Targets and bonus point objectives.

You can choose which statistics to view in real time so that you can better understand the effects of the improvements you have added to the street. In the higher levels you will probably test several different improvement scenarios as you attempt to meet the level targets and increase your bonus points.

Some key features of the Statistics Panel are annotated in the figure including:

  • You can choose which Happy Faces are displayed: for the buses, for the stations and for the buildings. In the figure only building happy faces are shown (the building icon is highlighed in green). Click on an icon to display as many or as few happy faces as you want.
  • The real time Statistics Graph displays happiness, costs or other statistics. You can choose which happiness (passenger, car or total) and which cost (variable or fixed) to display by clicking on the appropriate icon. In the illustration the public transport passenger happiness is shown.
  • On the statistics graph previous levels are also shown in a lighter shade. (Not shown in this illustration.)
  • The “More” statistics panel (shown at the right) presents information about the number of passengers lost because of unhappiness, bus statistics (speed, load) and station information.

BusMeister uses a relatively simple system to estimate happiness (although this can be revised to make the game more accurate for a specific situation). Public transport passenger happiness is calculated based on wait time, travel time, and how crowded the public transport vehicle is. Automobile happiness is calculated based on the level of congestion on the street (the amount of congestion changes depending on the street improvements). The combined happiness is calculated based on the number of PT or automobile passengers multiplied by the appropriate happiness level.

BusMeister: Statistics display options

BusMeister: Statistics display options

BusMeister: More statistics display

BusMeister: More statistics display

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