Crowdsourcing for improved public transport information and mobility behaviour

Crowdsourcing enables infrastructure managers and operators to gather data about public transport users’ behaviour and opinions. Data can be automatically collected, so-called big data, or it can be gathered through installed technologies that allow the tracking of passenger movements (e.g. cameras, mobile phone tracking). At Amsterdam airport, experiments take place with cameras that enable the automatic identification of suspicious behaviour. Data can also come by collecting passengers’ opinions (e.g. systematic searches for interchange and line-related tag words on social media, own mobile phone applications, etc.).
A number of operators incorporate a form of user information-sharing into their mobile applications. The RATP’s “J’aime ma ligne” (I like my line) provides and allows the sharing of information of interest about its public transport lines, as well as interesting addresses and events in the surrounding areas. The rural passenger information system, GetThere, combines the bus timetable with real-time location indications of other bus passengers that are on the same bus. More and more uses for big data are being developed, refined and used to guide mobility behaviour and provide real-time public transport information. Mobile apps such as TRIPZOOM provide a wealth of data, providing a detailed insight into modal split, speed, pattern and frequency of travel. With this data, infrastructure managers can better design their mobility policies, launch promotion projects and better monitor travel as a whole. The French rail operator SNCF has launched its application called “Tranquilien”. This mobile application provides real-time public transport information and the level of crowdedness on trains to public transport and interchange users. At the same time it collects mobility behaviour data of users, which is useful for the operator.

As modelling on the basis of preceding situations never fully represents the actual status of traffic and service provision, real-time crowdsourcing for data allows participating app users to indicate the real level of crowdedness of the trains, or incidents. Creating a win-win situation is essential. App users should get valuable information in return, otherwise they will soon stop using the app. The public authorities are not always involved. Social media also allow crowdsourcing organised by the users themselves for other users. A less socially desirable use observed is the sending of warning messages about public transport ticket checks.

NODES strategic objectiveContribution
Enhance accessibility and integration +
Enhance intermodality ++
Enhance liveability ++
Increase safety and security conditions 0
Increase economic viability and costs efficiency +
Stimulate local economy 0
Increase environmental efficiency +
Increase energy efficiency 0

Good practice

Tripzoom has been used in the B-riders campaign of the Province of North Brabant in the Netherlands. The software was used to track travellers, as well as to reward and encourage sustainable mobility behaviour. TRIPZOOM is able to detect the transport mode used for coming to and leaving any interchange. Using intelligent algorithms, TRIPZOOM covers car, public transport, cycling and walking. This provides a useful insight into the modal split. 2000 traveller have installed the app, which is available for both iOS and Android.

Tranquilien, the application from SNCF, can be used on Transilien commuter trains to Paris, with the exception of RER lines A and B, jointly managed with the RATP. Users enter their departure station and arrival into the app, which tells them when the next trains are due, combined with green, orange, and red indications corresponding to the expected level of crowdedness (low, medium or high) on the train. This allows users to decide to postpone their departure, if they want. On average, commuter trains are 40% occupied, although at peak times, the level can rise to 200%. Forecasts of occupancy rates are available in advance, based on data supplied by SNCF Transilien. Occupancy information is also reported by users in real-time, using crowdsourcing. This application is only available for iOS.

Potential interchange performance improvement

Crowdsourcing for improved public transport information provides more accurate and enriched information to the interchange user and traveller. It enables better better planning of scarce public transport resources and alternative forms of mobility (e.g. cycle infrastructure, placement of carpooling stations). It also promotes more sustainable mobility behaviour, without excluding private car use for parts of the journey where this is considered the best alternative.




The resources needed to develop applications and other technologies can be low (development of an app) to medium-high (use of specialised cameras). Most resources are related to the time invested and knowledge needed to get the underlying modelling and programming right.

To promote the use of an app, financial resources (anything between 20 000 EUR up to 100 000 EUR) may be required. Most important is the extent to which using the app is of value for the user.


Several references can be found. A few are represented here:



Rural Passenger Information System Utilising Linked Data & Citizen Sensing

J’aime ma ligne (RATP)