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An appraisal of QR code use to deliver bus arrival time information at bus stops in Southampton

Gammer, Nick (2011) An appraisal of QR code use to deliver bus arrival time information at bus stops in Southampton University of Southampton, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, Masters Thesis , 125pp.

Record type: Thesis (Masters)


The provision of at-stop bus arrival time information has numerous potential benefits to bus users. With real-time passenger information well established in the UK the challenge is relaying accurate bus arrival times to passengers in a cost effective manner. Display screens are costly to install and maintain, rendering placement at all bus stops economically undesirable. QR codes represent an inexpensive alternative to delivering this information, usually at zero marginal cost to users.

QR codes linking to a webpage displaying the arrival times of the next nine buses servicing a given stop were placed in the display cases of 44 bus stops in six distinct areas of Southampton. Scanning the QR code using a smartphone linked automatically to bus arrival information, the majority of which was in real-time. Arrival data was skimmed from the ROMANSE Traffic Control Centre website and
adapted for convenient, smartphone friendly display.

The project was split into two broad areas of investigation; QR code uptake and the effects of QR code use. QR code uptake examined usage trends over the project life and variations in usage by time of day, day of the week, stop location, stop characteristics and whether system explanation and promotion was displayed. Users had the option of obtaining the same information through typing the URL into a mobile browser rather that scanning the QR code, the use of which was also explored. The results of this section are anticipated to be useful for information providers in allocating resources, detailing where, when and under what circumstances there was greatest demand for QR code provision. The necessary data such as the time, date and location of scans was collected automatically over the life of the project.

The second area investigated possible positive psychological factors, adjusted travel behaviour, effects on patronage, perceived information accuracy and easy of system use. Data was collected through the use of a smartphone friendly survey optionally completed by system users and a face to face survey conducted at trial bus stops.

Results saw a trend of increasing use over the life of the project but remarkably little variation in use by the day of the week or between peak and inter-peak times. Virtually all users scanned the QR code rather than typing the URL. Surprisingly neither the stop having a shelter or display screen had a significant effect on usage, nor did promotion and explanation of the trial. There was however substantial variation in use by geographical area.

Survey results were encouraging with the vast majority of users finding the system easy to use, although a significantly higher proportion of older users found it more challenging. QR code use increased wait time acceptability for over two thirds of respondents and over a third felt safer. Potential patronage increases were also very positive, however results should be treated with caution. Adjustments to users’ travel behaviour were present although limited and perceived system accuracy was considered acceptable. The study concluded that given the low cost of implementation and the clear current, and potentially greater future benefits, the system should be employed wherever mobile internet connection and real-time information render it viable.

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Published date: December 2011
Organisations: University of Southampton, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment


Local EPrints ID: 207743
PURE UUID: df92a8d4-3864-4bc0-8f3b-ad1a9e000f79

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Date deposited: 11 Jan 2012 12:44
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 10:49

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Author: Nick Gammer
Thesis advisor: Thomas Cherrett

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