Thursday, December 04, 2008

iHub transport information: a demonstration

Forewarned is forearmed. The passenger told about the cancelled train before entering the station underpass is happier than one who only found out after the train failed to arrive. And it's better for everyone if the passenger can use this knowledge to do something useful (like grab some food or a paper) and minimise 'any inconvenience caused'.

Conversely not displaying train information until the last possible moment (eg suburban train times at the Bourke Street end of Southern Cross Station) is bad. It's a bit like having a shop on a first floor up a one-way staircase since if the services or times aren't to your liking, you've passed the point of no return and must wait it out.

Hence attempts to bring public transport information off the system to where the people are, in the street, at work or in their homes, are very much to be welcomed. One such information source is the iHub booths around Melbourne CBD. They were installed just before the 2006 Commonwealth Games as part of making the city 'tourist-friendly'. With their touch-screens they're like an electronic visitor guide, with information on things to do, attractions, food and transport.

Today I tried one out, in this case to find out about city trams. You can watch how the trial went below.

To summarise, they're not much good, at least for transport information, and usability was poor. While they might make some advertising revenue for the operator their public benefit is limited. The average tourist would be better off if the space was used for large city maps with attraction guides and transport information instead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LoL looks a bit like a lemon doesn't it!

I'm sure you've watched back and seen what happened which you end up with route 6 map without the other 20 odd choices...