Traveller information services are of high value for travellers who want to plan or adapt their journey depending on the actual situation. They improve comfort and efficiency, but also contribute to better safety and less environmental impact.
Typically, there are two kinds of traveller information: static information, which is known in advance and changes infrequently, and real-time information, which changes frequently also due to unpredicted events. Information is used before departure (pre-trip information) or while travelling (on-trip information). Information can be delivered via navigation devices, radio, the Internet, phones or signs (variable message signs, diversion signs).
The Traffic Message Channel (TMC) has become the most successful traffic information service and its development has been co-funded by the European Commission. It is a specific application of the FM Radio Data System (RDS) used for broadcasting real-time traffic and weather information. Data messages are received and decoded by a TMC-equipped radio or navigation system to offer dynamic route guidance. Thanks to TMC technology, users can receive traffic information in their own language. But RDS-TMC is not yet capable of offering cross-border traffic information.
Traveller information is offered by both public and private providers. It is therefore necessary to clarify the roles and co-operation of both sides. The future role of road operators as content providers is unclear today. With increasing mobile phone and vehicle tracking, private service providers can be better informed about the traffic situation than the road operator. Where road safety is at stake it is essential that information is made available to all players on a fair and equal basis.This relates to the notion of “universal traffic messages”, i.e. traffic information to be provided free of charge to all road users as a public information service. In general it needs to be assured that the individual benefit from real-time navigation does not undermine an effective traffic management for the collective benefit.
Core services include multi-modal traveller information, accident and event warning, traffic condition and travel time information, speed limit information, weather information and public transport information