Digital signage is becoming smarter, lighter, and, most importantly for public transit, wire free. Modern digital signage networks have the capacity to operate over hundreds of thousands of miles using nothing but basic electric and WIFI connections, enabling their installation in public transit networks ranging from bus and train to taxi.
While digital signage is far from new to most public transit networks, digital displays can greatly increase the capability of public transportation to communicate with passengers in meaningful ways. Modern transit uses displays to guide passengers, drive revenue, and increase customer satisfaction benefiting both passenger and the organization.
Passenger Information Display
Passenger information display is one of the most common and most important uses for digital signage in public transit. This is important considering digital signage was first utilized in airports for flight information display and today is making its way to train, tram, and other rail networks around the globe. Digital displays positioned in cars and vehicles and in stations and on platforms allow customers to see real-time public transit schedules, live platform updates, and arrivals.
Schedules stay up-to-date and share delays or schedule changes in real time. Passengers may be able to see a real-time route preview, detailing where their vehicle is at. When paired with apps or online services, this feature also allows customers to save time by reducing wait-times for late or delayed trains or busses. For example, Flix Bus uses this feature with their apps and their station displays.
Live Platform Information
Most passenger-oriented digital signage software allows users to link assets such as baggage areas, docks, or platforms directly to schedules. This means people can quickly see information like gates, baggage areas, or platforms with route advice automatically updated, even when last-minute or emergency changes take place.
Digital scheduling means passengers can easily see all of their route options and connections on a single screen, sometimes with live map preview. This allows passengers to easily plan routes, even without the benefit of an app or Google Maps integration.
Boarding Information and Advice
Trains and buses are increasingly using digital signage to share information relating to boarding, car or vehicle capacity, and storage areas to help passengers increase the comfort of their journey. For example, in the Netherlands, Pro Rail is increasingly sharing information relating to which cars are full, directing passengers to appropriate cars for bicycles or large baggage, and therefore reducing overcrowding and capacity issues by helping passengers move to the right area of the platform before the train arrives.
This extends to busing, where digital displays can guide passengers to the right areas to load luggage, reducing delays. And, planes have used this type of technology for years, guiding passengers to baggage drop-off, security checks, and even which side of the plane they should be boarding.
Interactive Ticketing and Directions
Self-help kiosks are increasingly popular, in small and large public transit networks alike. Today’s self-help kiosks offer sophisticated interactive technology allowing customers to purchase tickets, load transit cards, and plan and preview entire routes.
For example, UK’s Kadfire integrates digital service points comprised of touch screens. Passengers can view their location on a map, live transit information, live schedule information on a map, and book ticketing from one screen. This system serves one of the busiest rail networks in the world, offering a combination of information, customer assistance, and ticketing.
Digital terminals offer numerous advantages to organizations in that they speed up passenger interactions, reduce demand on live customer support, and help customers find what they need more quickly. Studies show that many passengers prefer quickly interacting with an automated machine to purchase tickets, see product information, purchase subscriptions, and get travel advice. It’s also beneficial to organizations in that, over the long-term, kiosks are significantly cheaper than providing the same support with customer service.
Infotainment and Advertising
Public transit typically requires customers to sit and wait, sometimes with delays, in crowded and busy areas. While many will be busy and preoccupied, these areas naturally come with a certain amount of dissatisfaction and boredom. Integrating infotainment and advertising into displays can help to alleviate this boredom.
Transit terminals and stations as well as vehicles and cars offer digital displays with films and TV, advertisements, product promotions, travel information, and even fun or interesting facts the world over. These displays work to entertain and reduce perceived wait time, boosting customer satisfaction. Many also offer direct ad revenue, with advertisers paying large fees to put ads in front of audiences that can range from thousands to millions every month. This is true of ads in stations as well as in even personal cars like a taxi, where advertising is increasingly popular.
Station-based retailers and shops can also benefit from this signage, with displays sharing relevant information, timetables and order wait-times, and otherwise driving sales to shops and food areas.
Digital signage offers dozens of benefits to public transit and most networks are beginning to utilize it. Digital displays wait times and missed transfers with live transit data and wayfinding. They improve customer perceptions and experiences with better information and clearer directions. They improve passenger safety. And, they help drive sales and revenue with timely ads, helping stations and terminals to drive more revenue.
While not every public transit network will benefit from every implementation, most will benefit from digital signage.