Online journey planners may not excite you a great deal, but they are very useful. The internet can be accessed nearly everywhere, and combined with a powerful smartphone, you can now plan and check public transport journeys from almost anywhere, at any time.
But, although there are more than 100 different online journey planners available in Europe, not one of them covers all countries and all transport modes. So, for example, there is no single website where you can plan a door-to-door journey using a mix of public transport and air travel from London to a hotel in Paris.
This, says the European Commission (EC) is a problem. Multimodal travel, using different types of transport for one journey, can help mitigate climate change, decrease congestion and reduce travel costs. It’s more complex, but travelling “smarter” is more integrated and brings benefits to European citizens. Multimodal travelis a key part of the European Commission’s strategy for the future of transport.
As a first step towards promoting multimodal travel and making it easier to achieve, the EC launched the Smart Mobility Challenge in June last year, which invited industry and the general public to develop the first Europe-wide online journey planner.
There were 28 submissions to the Challenge. The EC has shortlisted 12 and now wants people to vote for their favourite. The e-vote is open until 13 January 2012, and during this period a panel of experts will also assess the websites. The journey planner with the most votes will be announced by Vice President Kallas in Brussels on February 2012 and will be presented at next year’s ITS World Congress in Vienna (22-26 October 2012).
The updated challenge webpage (www.eujourneyplanner.eu) features the map of planners put to the e-vote, as well as a complete list of the journey planners and ideas submitted to the Commission in response to the Challenge. The pre-selection criteria the European Commission used can be found here ; and examples of other existing national journey planners can be found here.