Special Report 5
Fun Travel in Taipei──Handy Guide for users,Convenient Traffic Feedback and Carefree New Year Parties
Have you ever encountered the following awkward situations? You were waiting for a bus for a long time on a freezing cold day or in heavy rain and still at a loss to know when your bus would come. You were caught in traffic and didn’t know why it was so congested. You were behind the wheel on the city streets for quite a while without being able to find a parking space. All these issues that used to be bothersome can now be resolved by using the Fun Travel in Taipei App, officially released by the Taipei City Government (TCG). The app incorporates all of the traffic information in Taipei City, including contents related to bus schedules and stops, transfer ways, parking lots, even the Blue Highway ferry timetables, YouBike docking Stations, road information, MRT, taxis, intercity transport, airport, etc. This comprehensive information can be accessed from your smart phone. The convenience of this application has made it very popular among a great number of users. The iPhone version made it to a list of the hottest travel applications to download.
A New Version of the Fun Travel in Flora Expo App, the Fun Travel in Taipei has Become a Great Travel Mate in an Intelligent City
Since Taipei City started developing computerized signal systems in 1991, the Government has been continuously devoted to the promotion of its Intelligent Transportation System, ITS. With objectives such as sustainable and people-oriented traffic, the TCG TAIPEI 2012 Taipei Yearbook XXXVII TAIPEI 2012 aims to integrate the people, vehicles and roads in a systematic manner. They determined to construct Taipei as a city of intelligence.
TCG began the deployment of three services in the following order of priority: Advanced Traffic Management Services (ATMS), Advanced Public Transportation Services (APTS), and Advanced Traveler Information Services (ATIS). The ATMS, which is dominated by traffic controllers, would gradually shift to APTS and ATIS, which are more user-oriented. By means of the Internet and smart phones, the Government decided to provide helpful information for advanced travelers. Therefore, citizens can travel safely, conveniently, and intelligently in terms of the transport conditions in Metropolitan Taipei. Nearly everyone in Taipei carries around a smart phone or a tablet PC. With the Taipei Free public Wi-Fi readily available to everyone, the Department of Transportation of TCG started to evaluate the possibility of putting together traffic-related information and smart devices.
This would greatly enhance the accessibility of the public through their mobile devices when they are out and about. This concept was first brought into realization by the official release of the Fun Travel in Flora Expo application in 2010, the first traffic information service application for mobile devices that was developed and released by an official agency in Taiwan. This application provided citizens with information on how to travel to the Taipei International Flora Expo and on the real-time traffic information in the City. This was later revised into the Fun Travel in Taipei application for mobile devices and received positive feedback from the public.
Although the Taipei International Flora Expo came to an end on April 25, 2011, the Fun Travel in Flora Expo application had accomplished its mission. From the foundation laid out by Fun Travel in Flora Expo, the Department of Transportation of TCG combined the necessary technology and experience to revise the application to Fun Travel in Taipei application (versions are available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Windows Mobile). The application collects all the intercity traffic information sent back from Taipei's Intelligent Transportation System and connects to the Location Based Service or LBS via the mobile phone devices in a convenient and efficient manner. No matter what kind of transport tools members of the public use, they can quickly receive traffic information in real-time. This was a major breakthrough in the history of transportation in Taipei. Fun Travel in Taipei has become the most up-to-date companion for travelers in Taipei, the City of intelligence.
A Variety of Information and All in One
What features does the Fun Travel in Taipei application have? It provides information on transportation tools such as the MRT, intercity buses, the airport, the Blue Highway, YouBike, parking and taxis. Moreover, it also provides information on transfer services, dynamic traffic and aided inquiry illustrations to facilitate your look-up. To sum up, it is an application that provides All-in-One traffic information. With one touch, you can travel everywhere and anywhere in Taipei with great ease and convenience. The following is a description of several important features of the Fun Travel in Taipei application, which facilitates searches based on individual needs and requirements.
◆ Public Transportation Information
The Fun Travel in Taipei application was designed to carry out the policy of promoting public transportation set out by the Department of Transportation of TCG. The application provides information on buses, the MRT, intercity transport and planning for urban transfer (including the addresses of each station, the location of Accessible Elevators, exits, timetables, travel planning, ticket prices and so on.)
◆ Intercity Transportation Information
This feature provides schedule information for railways, the high-speed railway, Songshan Airport, and intercity buses. It also provides station locations and route maps for those traveling to other cities and counties outside of Taipei.
◆ Urban Transportation Transfer Planning
This feature allows users to create a transportation plan by setting a starting point and end point via transportation tools including the MRT, direct bus or both with transfer, enabling the public to travel by bus or the MRT with great ease.
◆ Parking Lot Information
To address the great challenge of finding a parking space in downtown Taipei, a parking lot information feature was included in the application. It provides the total and remaining parking spaces for cars, motorcycles, and bikes in a given parking lot. Users can determine their own location by GPS. Based on this, they can search the nearest parking lots or search from a list of parking lots under each administrative district. Then they can find the address, rate and available parking spaces of particular parking lot. On the application, three colors are used to indicate the availability of parking spaces: red stands for an occupancy rate of 95% or more, yellow 80~95%, and green less than 80%. The information is displayed via Google map so that drivers are provided a clear picture. Last but not least, a route planning feature allows users to plan the route from where they are to arrive at the desired parking lot.
◆ Road Information
Fun Travel in Taipei provides a great variety of traffic information. This feature displays overpasses, main boulevards, intercity bridges, etc. in simplified illustrations. To indicate current traffic speed on a particular road, three colors—red, yellow and green are used to signify congested, heavy and smooth traffic flow, respectively. Moreover, the Changeable Message Sign (CMS) and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) provided up-to-date traffic information. Road information also includes Road Event, providing the latest information and location of traffic accidents, construction work and roads that are closed down for repair.
◆ Blue Highway
This feature provides real-time information on operation route, pier location, ferry timetable, traffic information, and level of water.
This feature provides information such as docking stations, available parking spaces, available number of bikes for rent, route planning from the current location to the YouBike docking stations.
◆ Taxi Information
This feature allows access to the phone number and website of a taxi company; after reading the charge rate information, users can also designate a driver by phone number.
This feature provides the latest press releases, new knowledge and major transportation control information distributed by the Department of Transportation.
◆ My Favorite
The public can utilize the My Favorite feature to add frequently-used information such as bus stops, bus routes, parking lots, YouBike, etc, to a list for quick reference and inquiries.
High Download Rate Indicates Success in Providing Convenient Features to the Public
As of December 2012, downloads of Fun Travel in Taipei reached 349,136 since the official release of the application for free downloading on April 25, 2011. Inquiries of Fun Travel in Taipei reached a single month record of 14,960,000 enquiries. These numbers indicate that Fun Travel in Taipei has already become an important channel for the public to obtain transport information. Among all the inquiries, bus searches take the lion’s share of 90%.
Hence, it is obvious that Fun Travel in Taipei has made public transportation more popular and convenient. With Fun Travel in Taipei, the public is inspired to travel by public transportation to experience the advances created by TCG. increasing greatly the ease and efficiency of travel and travel planning. The application is widely used by the public with its popular free download. The iPhone version is the fourth most popular free download application and Number 1 in the category of Travel. In addition, Chunghwa Telecom requested to include this application as Hami Apps and Samsung also requested to have it on its Samsung App Store. Furthermore, Next Magazine gave the application a rating of five stars (the highest score) in terms of practical use.
It is also recommended by mobile phone software magazines. In a special TV interview, the Department of Civil Servant Development of TCG was invited to share its success story on the development of this application. The application is indeed a success with so much positive feedback and performance satisfaction. Fun Travel in Taipei has become well-known because of the convenient service that it provides to the public. It not only provides the public with transportation information; it enhances the use of public transportation. This further reduces the use of private transportation vehicles, decreases air and noise pollution, enhances energy efficiency.
What's more, traffic congestion is reduced, thereby increasing mobility. Members of the general public can easily access transportation information with a few clicks by making a particular feature a favorite on their mobile devices. A common saying goes “When you go out, you rely on your friends”; with Fun Travel in Taipei, the saying now becomes “When you go out, you rely on Fun Travel in Taipei.”