Red means wait – green means walk: that is the basis of a simple, trailblazing idea in the bus of the future. An idea which will optimise passenger flows both inside and outside the bus. In simple terms, the system uses illuminated door entries which quickly and clearly tell passengers where they may enter and exit.

This is just one of the many ideas generated as part of the EBSF (European Bus System of the Future) transport project that will be shown at the Bremen bus show from 24 to 25 May 2011. The conference, organised by the EBSF project partners along with the UITP (International Association of Public Transport) and the VDV (German Transport Operators’ Assocation), will look at the current activities of this EU research and demonstration project, with particular focus on the EBSF sub-project in Bremerhaven. As well as considering the theoretical approaches, the conference will also look at solutions that have already been implemented, such as the demonstrator vehicle on the basis of a Mercedes-Benz Citaro and the vision for a pan-European, ergonomically optimised bus driver cockpit.

European Bus System of the Future
EBSF (European Bus System of the Future) is the largest road-based transport project supported by the European Commission to date. It is conceived as an overarching, widely networked research project for the design and development of an innovative, high-quality European bus system of the future. The aim of EBSF is to demonstrate the potential of a new generation of urban bus networks, with a particular focus on an integrated systems approach (vehicle, infrastructure, technology, operation) with takes the passenger requirements of all age groups into account. The results and technical solutions from these projects are implemented in so-called “Use Cases” (demonstration projects), and tested in day-to-day operations. A total of seven demonstration projects are planned in seven European cities. A demonstration vehicle is now in operation in the bus transport system of Bremerhaven, and another demonstration project – the vision of an ergonomically optimised European bus driver’s cockpit – is available for virtual journeys at the IVI-Frauenhofer Institute in Dresden.

European driver’s cockpit project
The driver has a place of particular importance in a bus. The aim of the project for an ergonomically optimised European bus driver’s cockpit is therefore to take this human factor into consideration by establishing the same ergonomic parameters for the driver’s workplace in all European cities, as has been done e.g. in Germany with the VDV 234 guidelines. Apart from the ergonomic aspects, factors such as the driver’s personal needs, safety considerations and compliance with European regulations play a part. “The driver’s cockpit as we know it know was completely reexamined and redesigned,” says Dr. Helmuth Warth, Daimler Buses and EBSF project coordinator. “In the study presented, practically all components can be adjusted to suit individual needs. Whether the instrument panel itself, the steering wheel or the driver’s seat suspension system. Only in this way can we ensure that all the different physiological factors – large, small, male or female – will meet with the same driving and working comfort in the cockpit.”

As part of the EBSF project, the developments in the newly designed driver’s cockpit are currently being tested and evaluated with test drivers from Rome, Dresden and Gothenburg at the IVI-Frauenhofer Institute in Dresden. In these test series, selected drivers absolve virtual journeys on regular service routes through Dresden and Rome in a 3D simulator. These tests in the driving simulator are expected to be completed by the end of June 2011. The project personnel then hope that the detailed results will establish whether and which of the visionary cockpit features can be transferred to a standardised European driver’s cockpit.

Passenger information systems
One of the first demonstration vehicles is based on a Mercedes‑Benz Citaro articulated bus. This vehicle incorporates ideas from a sub-project concerned with passenger information systems. Externally, the otherwise straight lines of the Citaro differ greatly from the conventional city bus by the paint finish and additional design features. The illuminated doors are the first features to catch the attention. Specially designed LED lighting elements already show passengers the way on board as the bus approaches the bus-stop. Green means that they can enter here, while red means that this door is not intended for boarding. The developers hope that this controllable door colour coding will enable passenger flows to be guided more specifically and rapidly. The aim is to avoid the “traffic-jams” in the door areas that frequently occur on school runs or at heavily frequented bus-stops in peak periods. The clear pictograms on the side windows are also very noticeable. They enable passengers to see at a glance which technical features they can expect to find on board: WLAN, GPS and 230 V sockets.

While two externally aligned 58 cm LCD monitors at door 1 inform passengers about the route and bus-stops even before they board, four monitors in the interior perform the same fuinction. In addition they show onward connections, deviations, waiting times in real-time and, when in idle mode, cultural, political and business information. The on-screen display is also suitable for older and visually impaired passengers. A seat identification system with lights above the seats is intended to control passenger flows in the aisles. Thanks to these, it is possible from any position to see whether there are still seats available in the rear areas of the bus. A logical colour concept shows the way: green means that the seat is available, red means it is occupied. This reduces the time spent looking for a seat, and the walking around that this involves. Passengers without a seat can also travel in comfort: there are padded leaning surfaces combined with leaning supports opposite doors 2 and 3.

Project cities
The Citaro was delivered to the Bremerhaven transport authority at the end of April, and now it must show that its ideas work in day-to-day regular service. Bremerhaven is the only Germany city taking part in the four-year EBSF project, and in addition demonstration vehicles will go into service in Madrid, Paris, Rouen, Rome, Gothenburg and Budapest. 48 project partners made up of manufacturers, suppliers, operators, official bodies, researchers and consultancies are accompanying the project, which commenced in 2008. Together with these partners, EBSF is in search of trailblazing, combinable vehicle, infrastructure and operational designs with the aim of showing the possibilities for technical harmonisation and standardisation.

Source: Daimler AG