Transport Direct offers users a seamless door-to-door journey planner. It uses geographic information to offer reliable travel information so that people can make intelligent decisions about how and when to travel.
In line with Government targets to reduce road congestion and make services available online, an ambitious project to change national travel habits was born. The result was Transport Direct, a website that knits together disparate strands of data to provide easy to use, comprehensive door-to-door travel information under the tag line ‘Connecting people to places’.
From the beginning, Ordnance Survey data provided the foundation that made everything else possible. Transport Direct relies on 1:50 000 Scale Colour Raster and 1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster data to provide a backdrop overview of the country with key features such as towns, roads and railways.
OS MasterMap® Integrated Transport Network™ Layer (ITN), Ordnance Survey’s digital database of the nation’s road network, is the platform for Transport Direct's car journey planner, providing routing information as well as details such as turn and height restrictions, one-way roads, traffic-calming and access and time limitations.
It is the underlying data from OS MasterMap ITN Layer that enables the system to work out optimal routes and then display results.
By providing national coverage, Transport Direct assists with decision-making and opens up choice: it offers up to five public transport options, takes into account predicted traffic levels at different times of day, highlights car parks, shows costs and ticket prices and calculates CO emissions for all journeys: all underpinned by geographic information.
By 2010 Transport Direct was clocking up 20 million user sessions per year. According to Nick Illsley, Transport Direct Chief Executive, this is partly because the system and the data it relies on has continued to improve; for example it now has a database of 25 000 car parks in Britain. ‘There is still scope for more information, for example local authorities are working to define more cycle routes.
A survey conducted shortly after the site first went up, plus feedback from user questionnaires since then, suggests some shift in behaviour. The original business case targeted a 10% change in travel behaviour, whereas surveys indicate a level closer to 20% for all users and almost 50% where the journey has been made before.
The use of high-quality geographic information, both to add context and enable the Transport Direct journey planner, is fundamental to the service.