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The Search for The Right Path. What Journey Planners are Doing Right – and What They Could Do Better in Future

The Search for The Right Path. What Journey Planners are Doing Right – and What They Could  Do Better in Future

While navigating the cluttered spaces of growing cities is becoming ever more complicated, web and mobile journey planners promise to help stranded urban travellers find better, optimal transportation. Yet, the growing array of different systems are far from perfect and while many contain valuable components, others are missing elements that would make them invaluable to travelers. In this article originally published in April 2014 issue of Geoconnexion magazine, Intetics GIS analysts investigate 35 journey planning systems from around the world to identify which features make the best journey planners.

Our test

To evaluate what has been done in the past, Intetics analysed the core functions of 35 web-based journey planners. The analysis consisted of planning a journey in each engine and marking the availability of pre-defined Location-based services features, as well as noting extra features that are rarely present in similar engines. A list of pre-defined ‘standard’ features was extracted during the initial research phase and was later used for a wider range of applications.

We also conducted a survey to evaluate passenger opinion of some commonly used functions of route planning engines. The respondents had to define which functions are necessary for route planning and which are redundant.

The results

The majority of applications support choosing the mode of transport for route calculations. Apart from some that only have one type of transport to choose from (for example, buses), certain services do not support a choice of transport mode, although routes can be calculated using several modes of transport.

The next most frequent features are total journey time and total walking distance calculations. These are indeed useful for anyone planning a trip, especially when comparing possible routes and choosing the optimal one.

Another common feature that most engines provide is an embedded timetable of the connections. It should be noted that total journey time calculation ranking second in our rating seems incomplete without an actual timetable.

Another very useful feature of planning a journey is setting default preferences for route search, such as always searching for the fastest/cheapest/least number of connections or little walking routes, but this feature is only present in about half the cases examined. Lowest in our frequency ratings are some ‘advanced’ options, such as real-time transport location or delay information. These are rare features but common in more advanced applications.


Journey planning applications will become more important and more adapted to their specific environment. It is important that the complexity and functionality of these services reflects the complexity of the systems they represent, as well as the needs of the people using them. There is no doubt that expanding and improving the features of a journey planner would make it more useful and user-friendly, and as a result make it more competitive in a fast-paced widgets and apps market. Unfortunately, there is no single recipe for success – different areas
and countries will have their own specifics and unique requirements. In this article, however, we have tried to point out the most commonly required features

Download the full article to learn which features make the best journey planners.

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