Vienna’s old bus/tram stop sign on the left and new sign on the right.
UPDATE: 14 January 2021
Of course the Wiener Linien, the public transport company that makes Vienna the world’s most livable city, has very good reasons for the new signs. (I should have known given the overall excellent quality of the Wiener Linien public information.) I just saw a video about the Wiener Linien’s new signs on LinkedIn that describes their advantages:
Signs designed with strong involvement of accessibility community;
Barrier free (type size, contrast, audio information, big red post);
Video displays that provide route information, schedules, transfer points, walking distances, changeable with an accessible button;
Information consistent with the WienMobil Vienna multimodal trip planning app
As they say at the end of the video, the new signs provide more information, more comfort and are more barrier free. Again, the Wiener Linien shows why they are the leader in all things public transport. I can always see the old signs in the wonderful public transport museum Remise Vienna transport history museum.
The Viennese have a reputation in Austria of being grumpy (“grantig” in German). They are also, justifiably in many cases given the city’s beautiful historic buildings, parks and public spaces, not particularly enamored with change.
After living here 13+ years maybe I’m finally becoming Viennese. I’m really grantig about the new signs being used to designate bus and tram stops (Haltestelle).
BusMeister game bus stop improvements panel.
The old signs are simple, low tech, instantly recognisable, useful (most have attached garbage cans as shown in the photo) and clear. Note how the old tram signs are oval and outlined in red while the bus signs are half-oval and outlined in blue. I was surprised that the game designers who created my BusMeister game actually knew this difference and incorporated the half-oval signs into the game. And, of course, the old low-tech signs are also consistent with Vienna’s historic feel.
The new signs just seem blocky (in contrast to the old signs’ simple elegance). Sure they include the real time display (which is on a separate pole at many stops with the old signs), they clearly show the stop name, and they use more up-to-date fonts, icons and corporate design. But, hey, I’ve become old fashioned.
There’s no question in my mind that the Wiener Linien (Vienna’s public transport company) is the finest public transport operator in the world, but I just wish they would keep the old signs!
Andy and one of Vienna’s great pedestrian information maps on the corner of Mariahilfestrasse and Kaiserstrasse in Vienna.
This year I’ve been getting more involved in local transport planning politics – reminding me of my days as a leader in San Francisco’s environmental movement.
In October I had an idea for people to meet in the morning and take a walk together before work: Walk to (home) work. I submitted the idea to Agenda Neubau, a city district supported effort to encourage residents to get involved in neighbourhood planning (they provide some professional advisors, organisational resources and a small budget for projects), and it was accepted. We were even given a budget for small treats after the walks.
We had three walks before the latest Covid-19 lockdown meant we could not meet and walk together any longer. Now we are walking alone and sending photos to the Agenda Neubau. We’ll organise a group walk after the lockdown and have a nice breakfast together to make up for all the missed treats.
The Vienna Visitor Widget (VVW) would be the visitor’s one-stop tourism app: tickets, schedule, shopping and more.
I developed a proposal for improving management of tour buses in Vienna. They were looking for practical technology applications that could be used to help guide bus drivers through traffic and to parking spaces, etc. but, naturally, I took the idea further and developed a comprehensive approach to city tourism in the future. I presented the paper at the 2020 Austrian Pedestrian Association conference in October.
The main idea is that people will travel less in the future and consequently will seek more authentic and interesting experiences than standard bus tours. They will want to experience cities with the knowledge of well-informed locals and use the same (transport) infrastructure as locals as they visit tourist attractions.
Whale shaped Wien Clean WC in front of Vienna’s NHM.
My thinking is heavily influenced by cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, where riding through the city on a bike is a standard part of every tourist’s visit … even for those who wouldn’t think of riding a bike at home. The great thing is that cities can build infrastructure for residents, and it can become an attraction for tourists as it certainly is in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
I wrote a (funny?) short story in memorandum format. The writer is from the Copenhagen tourist bureau who reports on the great things Vienna is doing for tourists. There’s a lot of information technology, much of it developed by a multi-city consortium led by Vienna, and improved walking and cycling facilities in Vienna’s future. The story is called Tour Bus Confidential – Vienna 2023 and the presentation Creating Sustainable Cities for Residents and Tourists. I also had a lot of fun making the drawings and imagining a better Vienna.
According to Wikipedia … “Carl Ritter von Ghega or Karl von Ghega (10 January 1802 – 14 March 1860) was an Austrian nobleman and the designer of the Semmering Railway from Gloggnitz to Mürzzuschlag. During his time, he was the most prominent of Austrian railway engineers and architects.”
The Semmering Railway was built between 1848 and 1854 and is part of Austria’s Southern Railway (Sudbahn) between Vienna and Trieste (part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire then). It was the first standard gauge railway built over the Alps. The Semmering Railway is a UNESCO world heritage monument and there’s a good description on the UNESCO Semmering Railway page.
Visiting is easy since it’s only about one-hour by train from Vienna to Mürzzuschlag. There the excellent Sudbahn Museum has exhibits about building the Semmering Railway, Austrian railways in general, and historic rolling stock. Here’s an excellent post with history, photos and directions for hiking between Semmering and Mürzzuschlag from Andras Moser.
I was a little surprised with our institute’s name when I first heard it, but It’s nice to work on transport projects in an institute named after a famous railway engineer. And, of course, it always gives you something to talk about when people ask, who …
Two of my papers were accepted for the 2020 TRB Annual Meeting:
Reducing Delays on High-density Railway Lines: Crossrail Case Study
Giorgio Medeossi and Andrew Nash – Monday January 13 – 10:15 AM- 12:00 PM – Convention Center, 144A
The paper describes development of a new timetable designed to reduce delays on the existing Shenfield-London high density regional rail line. The project combined detailed railway operational data with Oyster Card data to identify the root cause of delays and develop timetable improvements. The alternative timetable was tested and refined using stochastic simulation. The new timetable was placed in service during 2016 and led to a significant reduction in delays: punctuality within 5-minutes of scheduled arrival time increased by 6.2% during the most critical hour of the morning peak period.
A Framework for Capturing the Business Benefits of Railway Digitalization
Andrew Nash, Felix Laube and Samuel Roos – Tuesday January 14 – 1:30 PM – 3:15 PM – Convention Center, Hall A
This paper outlines a framework for changing railway systems and processes to help railways capture the full business benefits of digitalization. Economic research shows that businesses need to make fundamental changes to their systems and processes if they are to take full advantage of new technology. The slow implementation of digitally based signaling systems such as ETCS and PTC highlights the need for fundamental change in the railway industry to more aggressively implement new technology – and obtain the full benefits of this technology. The proposed framework integrates an improved and up-to-date understanding of customer needs with a much more efficient and customer-oriented production process. It is designed to make use of today’s powerful data collection, communications and analysis technologies rather than applying new technology to old processes. The proposed framework has been developed based on earlier research results and practical experience. The paper is intended to spur discussion.
Alan Bell has used machine learning to develop a program that analyses data from traffic cameras to identify blocked bus and bike lanes. He analysed a section of St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan and found that the bike lane was blocked 55% of the time and the bus stop was blocked 57% of the time between 7am and 7pm.
This is a great example of how people can use open source data to help develop data supporting sustainable transport. In this case it is clear that better enforcement and protected bike lanes are needed. Residents can take this data to government agencies and demand change.