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Rideline Goes Online!

“Auckland Public Transport Information On The Internet - Rideline Goes Online!”

Access to information on public transport in Auckland will be revolutionised with the launch on Tuesday of the Auckland Regional Council’s Rideline website, www.rideline.co.nz

“It has made public transport more accessible to anyone with access to the internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said ARC Transport Committee chairman Les Paterson. “Aucklanders can now help themselves to public transport.”

Transfund New Zealand will contribute $166,000 over three years towards the Rideline website. This contribution is in addition to more than a million dollars developing the sophisticated database that drives the site’s journey planner and computerisation of all systems undertaken by the ARC over the past two years.

Currently the Rideline contact centre receives over 1 million calls each year about public transport routes and timetables. The website is a natural progression, particularly after ARC’s research indicated that 54% of people are likely to use an internet service.

“Our Rideline call centre provides an excellent service, but it is only open from 7am to 8pm on weekdays and Saturdays and from 8am to 6.30pm on Sundays,” Cr Paterson said. “The internet service is not only available at any time, it also has feedback and forum features at little additional cost to ratepayers.”

The new internet Rideline service covers bus, train and ferry services in the Auckland region. It has an innovative journey planner that allows people to enter their address, any nearby landmark or intersection details, along with their destination and, at the click of a mouse, the five best travel options will be displayed.

The website is expected to be especially popular with students, office-based professionals and temporary workers. It should also appeal to holidaymakers and tourists.

Councillor Ruth Norman, member of Rideline’s advisory board, said the internet is a natural progression for public transport information services. “So many people today have access to the internet at work, school and home that it has become the first point of call for many Aucklanders.”

“Other New Zealand cities have put public transport information on the web and found it has worked successfully for them. Now Auckland has gone a step further by becoming the first in the country to include a journey planner.”

“People visiting the Rideline website will also be able to give feedback on public transport directly to the ARC and to operators and we hope the website will also become a powerful forum for feedback on public transport,” said Cr Norman.

Rideline’s website will be publicised through a marketing campaign that includes free postcards and advertisements on buses.

“Rideline has proved to be very effective in promoting public transport services,” Cr Paterson said. “We are confident that by extending that service to a website we will encourage still more Aucklanders to use public transport.”

- END -

For more information, please call:

Cr Les Paterson

Chairman Transport Committee

Auckland Regional Council

Phone: 09 5358828 (home) or 366 2000 x 7111

Or

Councillor Ruth Norman

Member Rideline Advisory Board

Auckland Regional Council

Phone: 09 366 2000 x 7111

Or

Wayne Funnell

Rideline centre manager

Auckland Regional Council

Phone: 366 2000 extn 8888

Cell: 021 626 951

Email: wfunnell@arc.govt.nz

Background Information on Rideline

- Rideline was established in 1993 as the Auckland region's free public transport information phone (and now website) service providing journey and fare information.

Rideline Phone Service

- To receive free phone information on buses, trains and ferries, phone Rideline at (09) 366 6400 or for outside of the Auckland free calling area, toll free on 0800 10 30 80

- Rideline contact centre’s hours of operation are Monday to Saturday 7.00am to 8.00pm, and Sunday 8.00am to 6.30pm.

- Rideline contact centre received 1.2 million calls in 2000, which are estimated to be from 84,000 people. In April 2001 it averaged 3100 calls per day.

- A 1999 survey indicated that 1 million new public transport trips a year were generated through information supplied by Rideline

- 28% of Rideline customers say their use of Rideline has resulted in an increased in their usage of public transport

Rideline website

- The website will complement the Rideline contact centre service - check it out on www.rideline.co.nz

- Transfund has granted $166,000 to Rideline website development over the next three years

- Features a Journey Planner run by IPTIS software, online feedback and forum mechanisms, fares and other general information and the latest public transport service improvements.

New computerised information

- In August 2000 the phone centre was converted from a paper-based information system to a fully computerised system, which has since enabled the development of the website also.

- More than a million dollars was spent by ARC on sorting out development issues to do with the call centre, transport planning and converting from the paper based system.

- In setting up the Rideline computer database, 8 months of data capture with 4 people working full-time converted all timetable information to electronic format - 500 routes, 6,000 trips, 500 timing points and 2,000 Auckland landmarks were gathered. An up-to-date inventory of 5,000 bus, train and ferry stops was completed by visiting every stop to record its location.

- Previously, timetable information was held in a series of folders that were accessed by phone centre staff during each call. Other general information was also held on hard copy.

- The new system uses IPTIS (trip planning software - Integrated Public Transport Information System).

- Net-based versions of the IPTIS software was first used in Brisbane and Perth’s public transport information websites. It was developed by Brisbane-based IT company OpCom, who have also worked on the ARC’s database and website development. Information about OpCom can be obtained from the website, www.opcom.com.au

- The IPTIS system enables Rideline’s phone operators to answer all public transport enquiries with significant benefits of speed and consistency, including the ability to accurately route from any street address to any other within the Auckland region (Waiwera to Pukekohe). In addition, Rideline’s phone operators are able to advise customers of the walking route to or from their point of origin, destination, or interchange, to the access point of the most convenient transport mode using the system’s map display capability.

- ARC market research (conducted in December 2000/January 2001) shows satisfaction with the phone service has increased 41% since the introduction of the computerised information.

- The Rideline phone centre’s telephony system, Transcend, was also installed in August 2000. It is a high volume call application based on Rockwell’s acclaimed Spectrum automatic call distributor (ACD) software. It enables customer identification by geographic location, a feature which can be used for passenger transport planning to more accurately target potential passenger transport users.

- The computerisation of Rideline provides a significant increase in accurate information available therefore providing a much higher degree of confidence for people to use public transport. The ARC’s market research shows that 73% of people reported increased confidence in using public transport after using the Rideline phone service.

- The database is updated daily, meaning that information provided for all public transport planning and public transport usage is accurate and consistent and in one place.

Public transport in Auckland

- Patronage of Auckland public transport rose 7% last year (throughout 2000), to 41 million passenger trips.

- Public transport users are predominantly young (more than half are under the age of 25 years) and female (60% of users)

- There are 690 buses, 19 diesel multiple unit trains and seven ferries operating on scheduled urban services in the region

- There are about 1500 jobs involved in providing public transport services in Auckland

- The Auckland Regional Council subsidises 60% of scheduled services in the region, spending in total $52.5 million on public transport in 2000, sourcing these funds from ratepayers and Transfund

- Transfund has granted more than $1.93 million of additional funds towards new services and improvements to public transport in Auckland since November 2000 (and more applications are pending).

The Rideline website will have the following advantages over the call centre service:

- 24-hour 7-day access

- Rapid response - the caller never has to queue for information

- The website requires the same input of information as a phone operator does - the information for the web is obtained from the same database

- The caller can control the speed of the inquiry and can spend as long as necessary to find the information required at no cost to the ARC

- The caller can send feedback on the information service and on public transport in general directly back to the ARC and to operators

- The website requires little staff involvement and can be maintained at little cost to ratepayers

- In the future, the site will also provide detailed maps of Auckland and timetables.


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