ECAN’s MetroInfo website provides all the core functions of a journey planning service. It includes real-time bus information and estimates of real service arrival times as well as timetable information. Providing GPS based real-time data improves confidence in the public transport system, as users can be informed about the status of bus arrival times.
A useful feature of a real-time global positioning system (GPS) system is the status of buses expected at a bus stop can be received by mobile phone. While the system does not use the text message service, information requested from mobile phone users is available via wireless application protocol. This is comparable to having a mini web-browser on a mobile phone.
The MetroInfo system does not include a walking network so journeys are not fully optimised as walking is assumed to take place on the road network.
The MetroInfo journey planner also excludes some routes entirely. Services such as the ‘City Shuttle’ and the ‘After Midnight Express’ are currently excluded from the journey planner. While there may be valid reasons for not including these services in the journey planner, leaving them out reduces the software’s ability to optimise journeys for some public transport users and is likely to reduce its usefulness.
MetroInfo has a number of significant landmarks loaded into the journey planning database, although this is not to the same level of detail as the Auckland system. Landmarks coded include education facilities, health facilities and public services.
Many Metro buses have suitable facilities for wheelchair users and those with mobility issues but there is currently no facility to plan a complete journey using only vehicles with these facilities.
Other gaps in usability of the MetroInfo website include a lack of school bus information and inability of the user to set up and save frequently travelled journeys.
In the future, journey planning on MetroInfo is expected to be expanded to include cycling and the possibility to plan multi-modal journeys.