Driving the Bernia Express, Sept 2004

Andrew Nash
Innovative urban and transport planning
Vienna, Austria

Where's the steering wheel?

Bus Meister

The BusMeister project has been renamed GreenCityStreets because the application is designed to be multi-modal and address all aspects of sustainable transportation.

GreenCityStreets went on-line in March 2011. You can play the BusMeister game, view the best practices library or use the Forum.

You can read more about the project on the GreenCityStreets Description and in a paper GreenCityStreets.com - An internet application for increasing public involvement in public transportation submitted to the US Transportation Research Board for the 2012 Annual Meeting.

The previous Bus Meister project description, which provides a more complete description of the project approach is available below.

BusMeister Project Description

Download PDF version

Improving public transport using social networking and information technology.

Bus Meister uses an on-line game, social networking and a wiki to teach people how to improve public transport. By involving people in the improvement process we hope to stimulate creative thinking and generate the political support needed to implement good ideas.

The Bus Meister on line game demonstrates how public transport priority measures can improve bus and tram service. The game's foundation is a crowd sourced database documenting best practices in public transport operations. Finally, Bus Meister's social networking features provide a forum for discussion and help generate political support for public transport improvements.

Bus Meister focuses on public transport priority. Public transport priority measures are improvements designed to make public transport more attractive by speeding-up buses and trams. In contrast to large infrastructure projects like new metros or subways, they are generally inexpensive and can be implemented quickly.

Bus Meister's approach, providing an integrated set of internet applications designed to encourage active participation by urban residents in planning and supporting public transport, could also be extended to other urban infrastructure. The Bus Meister model, a combination of using a game to teach residents about a complex subject, providing detailed information in a best practices wiki, and using social networking to encourage implementation of the best ideas would be an excellent method for engaging residents in the process of improving cities.

In October 2010, the City of Vienna awarded Bus Meister 3rd Prize in its Die Stadt 2020 Research Program. Vienna is providing funding assistance for initial project development through ZIT The Technology Agency of the City of Vienna. The project team: Andrew Nash, Platogo and Snizek + Partner Verkehrsplannungs GmbH will introduce a beta version of the game in early 2011. Project elements are summarized below.

More Information

Please contact me with questions.

Bus Meister Game

Bus Meister is an internet game that teaches players about public transportation and strategies to improve operations.

The Bus Meister game presents players with a surface public transport route. The player's goal is to make the bus or tram run faster by dragging public transport priority measure 'widgets' onto the displayed route. For example, one widget would change a traffic signal so that it provides priority for public transport vehicles.

Bus Meister Screen Shot 2011

Bus Meister Screen Shot, game developed by Platogo, 2011.

The game would simulate route operations and display parameters showing how much the player had improved: passenger satisfaction, the public transport system cost and general satisfaction of city residents (since providing priority to public transport can negatively impact other traffic).

The game will have several levels from beginner (Passenger) to advanced (Bus Meister). Each level would be more challenging than the previous and be designed to teach players about more advanced improvement strategies. Higher levels will also include additional widgets to improve public transport. Once a player reaches a specified score on one level they can move-up to the next level.

Our goal is to create a fun and engaging, but educational, game. This game will be simplified and generic. If the initial game is successful, it will be extended and improved to help explain more advanced public transport concepts and ideas for improving specific routes. The ultimate goal is a game in which players can develop and test ideas for improving real public transport routes (e.g. the routes they use every day).

The initial game will be available on its own website and on Facebook. There will also be versions created for public transport agency websites or Facebook pages. Public transport agencies would use the game both to drive internet traffic to their website, thus helping them communicate with their customers, and to teach their customers about public transport priority using local examples, thus helping generate support for implementing public transport improvements.

Bus Meister Social Networking Application

One of Bus Meister's key goals is to encourage players to form social networks to discuss the ideas they learn playing the game. In particular we hope that the players will form local groups that help provide political support for implementing public transport improvements. The social networks will also be used to publicize the game to friends and encourage players to keep playing the game.

Bus Meister will be fully integrated with Facebook which will be used to announce high scores and "who's playing" to friends. The Facebook page will be linked to the Bus Meister website which will include a set of social networking features enabling players to discuss issues in detail and geo-code improvement ideas. We will also create special pages for specific public transport agencies enabling them to collect ideas and information from their customers who play the game, and efficiently respond to these ideas.

Ultimately we hope to encourage public transport passengers to create new ideas for making public transport work more efficiently and to discuss these ideas on the Bus Meister social network. By encouraging non-professionals to think about public transport, we hope to generate fresh innovative improvement ideas.

Bus Meister Best Practices Library

The Bus Meister Best Practices Library is a wiki describing public transport operations and priority measures. The wiki provides both introductory information for non-professionals and more detailed information for professional planners.

Bus Meister Best Practices wiki

Bus Meister Best Practices wiki, 2011.

The wiki consists of three main sections: a description of the Bus Meister game, information on public transport priority and references. The public transport priority section contains introductory pages presenting basic information and details pages describing technical information and research results. The wiki uses a hierarchical structure helping users to more easily see relationships between topics.

Our goal is that the wiki becomes an active forum for discussion on public transport priority. This is important because we hope that professionals will contribute information to the wiki based on their research and case studies; their incentive for participation would be publicity. Ultimately this wiki would provide an elegant (and constantly updated) literature review - thus further encouraging professionals to add information. Professionals will be encouraged to participate through the use of professional social networking applications (e.g. LinkedIn).

Development Plan

Bus Meister will be developed in stages. The first stage will test the concept by creating a generic game, social networking features and wiki best practices library.

If the initial application is successful, we will seek to improve the game and adapt it for use on specific planning problems. For example the game could be used to help collect public input on a route planning study. Throughout the process we will make the game more realistic, add features and improve usability.

Please contact us (busmeistergame@gmail.com) if you are interested in learning more.

Acknowledgements

The Bus Meister project has been assisted by funds provided by the City of Vienna through ZIT The Technology Agency of the City of Vienna.