QUARTA Stop Request Kiosks: Buttons or Touchscreen (and other QUARTA questions)

Posted by Ernestpcosby on 20 February 2017 in English (English)

Buttons or Touchscreen?

Back in November I posted a news article called QUARTA beta-testing Stop Request buttons at bus stops serving multiple routes. You can take a quick glance to know more about what I'm talking about, but basically at the time I proposed stop request buttons at bus stops serving more than one bus route so that only the routes people are waiting on have to stop (other than when people are getting off).

Now I'm thinking about expanding this beyond just stops with multiple routes and also including these request buttons at stops along major crosstown routes even when there is only that one route, since routes that major often suffer from delays from having to make frequent stops. Now at the moment this would not extend to smaller neighborhood routes which would have much less of a need for something like this, since the routes generally run slower.

However, it brings up the question- how will these kiosks work?

My original idea, at least for the beta version, was to just have a panel on the side of a post with what are essentially elevator buttons to request each bus. I still think it's a good idea, but at the same time, bus routes change, meaning the routes served by each stop will likely change at some point too. I'm thinking the panels with the buttons would be easy and semi-cheap to replace, that the numbers will be easy to change and that there might automatically be like a couple extra buttons that can be activated if new routes are added, but still, that could be a hassle.

My other idea was to create a larger solar powered kiosk with a touchscreen. These displays could show much more information than the button version, ex. Route name, destination, service, etc, as well as be updated immediately with no changes. However, I feel like this would put the sight impaired at an extreme disadvantage- with the button version, I planned to do like many elevators and have a braille panel next to each number, but you can't exactly put braille on a touchscreen. Then again, I suppose that could be solved by having Braille plackards on the plastic/metal next to the screen that correspond spacing-wise to the listings of the routes as they display on the screen, but that would still mean the Braille plackards would have to be changed every time the bus routes changed. Maybe if I added sound features?

I'm wondering what you guys' thoughts are. I'm thinking maybe use the kiosks at major stops and the buttons at minor stops. I think places where only one bus stops and it's not expected that the number of buses at that stop will ever exceed 3 would be okay using the button kiosks, but at major stops that see a medium amount of route changes the kiosks might work better.

Emergency buttons at every metro entrance?

Another note is I'm considering adding emergency buttons to all major bus stops and to the posts besides every QLine Metro Station entrance, to create sort of a citywide safety network similar to what we see on many college campuses. I suppose one might compare it to those really old fire boxes that used to be in major cities way before my time:

Fire Box


What do you guys think? Any ideas to improve either of these concepts?

Comment from eklas on 20 February 2017 at 17:15

So, I don't know if QUARTA is a state-owned or a private company, but either way equipping all the bus stops with request buttons and/or kiosks is a big investment and a lot of extra cost on maintenance. I have two other ideas though.

  • Not all stops have to be on request. You've mentioned 'major' stops- I guess all buses could automatically stop there, since there's a big chance someone will want to get on or off there. Some stops can also be on request in a specific time period only (8 pm to 5 am works well.)

  • You could decrease the number of lines serving the stops. Instead of having A, B and C stop on five consequent stops, you could have stops 1 and 5 served by all three and then 2, 3 and 4 served by C only. If there was a reason to have stops 2 to 4 be on request in the first place, there are going to be more passengers saving time on the A and B lines, than passengers having to transfer once more.

The emergency buttons could be useful in areas with higher crime rates, I guess.

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Comment from Litvania on 20 February 2017 at 17:15

I think your final statement is the most appropriate. You can have button kiosks in the less populated area stops, while in the city centre you could have touchscreen kiosks with sound features for the sight impaired.

This is a very interesting entry!

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Comment from Pawl on 20 February 2017 at 21:25

Where I live (UK), the normal method for stopping the bus you want is to put your arm out as it approaches! It works fine, in my experience (admittedly it wouldn't work for a blind person who can't see the approaching bus).

The bus timetable still has to allow for the possibility that the bus will stop at approximately X number of stops en route. Punctuality is more important than speed, because the one thing worse than a late bus is an early bus which has already gone by the time people arrive in the hope of catching it at the advertised time. It doesn't matter too much if the next bus is due in ten minutes, but it does if the next one isn't due for another hour or two!

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Comment from martinum4 on 20 February 2017 at 21:35

My point of view on this is the following: The timetables get messed up because you'll have busses that will be early due to left out stops. If a bus is too early it just stays longer at the next station and thus kinda defeating the purpose of the system. You could migrate that problem by saying "you got to be there 5 minutes earlier than time shown on the timetable", but that would be really confusing for the end users (Especially foreigners that are not familiar with your system), also it would not safe time in general, because someone would have to wait somewhere....

Example: Line with 10 stops, let's calculate 30 seconds for every stop, so we are at 5 minutes difference if there would be no passengers getting on/off. Most lines are longer than that, especially in the rural areas. I remember back in my school time that the (sheduled) school bus-line always was at least 10 minutes early at the destination stop because the driver just didn't care about if someone would want to get on the bus at one of the stops in between and drove like mad...

Happy Mapping Martin

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Comment from PColumbus73 on 21 February 2017 at 00:34

How would the touchscreens hold up to weather, vandalism and accidents?

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Comment from Ernestpcosby on 21 February 2017 at 00:50

@eklas, very valid points. Especially about maybe having the more major buses skip more stops. I suppose if I make sure there's a good amount of coverage by neighborhood routes thatg should work well. A while back I had considered adding official Neighborhood routes to every crosstown route (so for example route 20C would be the long distance rapid bus that ran every 6 minutes and skipped minor stops except for requests for deboarding, while route 20N would be the neighborhood route that stopped more that ran maybe once every 18 minutes) but that concept still seems about as iffy as the stop request kiosks XD Anyhow, I like both your ideas and will integrate them into the concept! :D

@Pawl and martimum4, I would think that the bus timetable would be modified to reflect the understanding that buses would be stopping less frequently, perhaps It would still probably be more likely for them to be late than early if the timetable was properly adjusted to reflect shorter bus times. Also, Pawl, on your point, these would be mostly on routes that stop fairly frequently- for example, route 20C (Hesperic Parkway and Mark Street) runs every 6 minutes, other similar C (crosstown) routes run at least every 8 minutes. However, both of you do bring up very valid points about speed/punctuality. I think perhaps applying eklas' idea of reducing the number of stops on the more major routes is the most promising way to solve the issue whether that's alongside the stop request buttons or without them.

@PColumbus, the touchscreens would basically be like the digital displays already found at many subway stations or bus stops across the country. The touchscreen would be more like your public kiosk than your smartphone screen, because of possible vandalism. The kiosks would be built to be waterproof, and vandalism isn't a common issue in Freedemia. Now, obviously if a car hits it it'll need to be replaced. XD Otherwise the only weather that could be an issue would be extreme winds which are rare or lightning striking. But I get your point. I think the kiosks would only be at certain major stop locations if I was to do this.

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Comment from Portopolis on 21 February 2017 at 14:12

How old is the average Freedemian, unless it is 35-36+, I just can't see how vandalism wouldn't be a problem in at least poorer neighborhoods. I feel like large groups of teens with nothing to do might just end up vandalizing, something and things like the kiosks just seem very likely to be vandalized.

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Comment from Ernestpcosby on 21 February 2017 at 14:17

@Portopolis, while most Freedemians are younger, there's a pretty high level of ethics in Freedemian society that are largely reinforced throughout one's entire life. Not to mention the laws are pretty strict on it. The kiosks would also be made with thicker plastic and that graffiti-proof coating. Large groups of teens as you described will rarely have nothing to do and if they did there are an abundance of productive things (or even unproductive things like letting their brains rot on a computer or hurting themselves doing dumb stunts XD) they would do before resorting to something like destroying public property.

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Comment from Portopolis on 21 February 2017 at 14:48

Okay, thanks for the explanation. It just seems that in the real world their is such a high correlation with young populations and crime that it seems hard to ignore for example almost all African countries are less than 26 years old on average. This is part of the reason we have such a high crime rates. Even the U.S which is the youngest developed country is 35 years of age on average. The hispanic population in the U.S is probably the best example worldwide of a young population with a relatively low crime rate. Also the safest countries South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Norway all are 38 years old or older with Japan at 44-45 having the lowest rates of petty crime in the world.

Also I am a crime stats junkie so I always like to get into conversations about crime so I am probably arguing over nothing TBH.

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Comment from Sarepava on 21 February 2017 at 16:42

  • Most bus stops in major cities are compulsory stops anyway and it's reasonable to assume that the bus will stop to let somebody off, if not on as well.
  • In busy locations there are a line of separate bus shelters serving different routes in different parts of the stop area. This minimises buses queuing to stop.
  • Help and information points are common at UK stations and main bus stops. They seem vandal-proof. Also most people these days use smartphone apps to check public transport running, which can serve more content than displays at the stop itself.
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