How Public Transportation Has Improved Thanks to Digital Signage

If you frequent public transportation, then over the past decade you’ve probably noticed something cool that seems to be an emerging trend.  Much like at other public hotspots, digital signage is starting to be incorporated into our public transportation modules as well, as way to entertain, inform and advertise to bus and train riders.  In fact, it isn’t uncommon for distance riders to have a digital sign in the back of the seat in front of them, giving them the opportunity to check out cool movies or TV shows that they select.  Sometimes it’s a pay-per-view type situation and other times it’s free.  We’re going to discuss some of the neatest examples of how this technology is being deployed and how you, the bus or train rider can benefit from digital signage on your public transportation module.



This is a pretty common scene these days.  If you ride a subway or train to work, you’re probably used to seeing screens at the front and back of the car.  These screens serve a couple of purpose.  The first objective is to display transportation information, letting riders know the next stop and other important transportation information.  The second purpose that they serve is to display advertising information.  It’s this ability to increase ad revenues that helps keep public transport cheaper than other types of transportation.



You may recognize the inside of the bus above- it’s a big red double decker bus, similar to what you would find in England (in fact that’s where this one is from) and they are using digital signage within the bus to alert passengers to the next stops that are going to be coming up soon.   If you’ve ever ridden public transportation then you can imagine how helpful this might be, especially if you’re trying to maneuver a city that you aren’t very familiar with already.  I know I’ve been traveling before and gotten on the wrong bus or train and wound up way further then I meant to go.  It’s not just embarrassing, but it can be expensive and time consuming as well.  Digital signage such as this prevents that from happening, which is nice.

I noticed digital signs like this on the outside of a bus during my last trip to New York City, and that’s precisely where this image was taken.  This has helped increase ad revenue pretty dramatically over the past few years, as it has allowed advertisers to swap out ads much easier.  It also means that more ads can be displayed, as the ads can be rotated much easier as well.  Plus it’s just fun to look at- these are high impact, colorful designed ads that really catch your attention.  It’s hard not to enjoy looking at the digital signage on the side of a bus.  It’s also been a windfall for cities like Chicago and New York that have struggled to figure out a way to keep costs down the cities bus and train riders.  Budget shortfalls are everywhere these days, so this has been a nice addition and welcomed one as well.  In addition, companies like Kraft Food will often broker deals with the city that provides heating units at bus stops for the passengers in exchange for advertising spots.  There’s no doubt that passengers have few complaints about the bus stop advertisements, so everyone benefits with these types of exchanges.



Hotel guests in the LA area may be finding things a bit easier these details, as 32 buses and 13 hotels had large digital screens installed that inform both arriving and departing guests with hotel information, flight information, airport details.  They did this for a number of reasons.  Number one they wanted to reduce high congestion for those taking the highway.  They also wanted to reduce confusion.  So what they’ve done is consolidate the airport shuttle services of 13 individual hotels.  Not only does this cut down on traffic, but it reduce emissions too by about 55 percent of shuttle trips through LAX.  Digital signage was an easy way to communicate with passengers, extending hospitality and reducing confusion.  That’s why this is such a powerful tool

Each bus that’s participating in has a 32-inch LCD that’s position inside the bus that works in coordination with audio announcements as well.  What I like about this system a lot though is that there are touch screens located at LAX and in the lobby of participating hotels.  Windows 7, selected because it features location-based services, is crucial for the GPS-triggered content, handles all the digital signage.  This means that while each bus is travelling it can provide content to the passengers based on where they are at in their journey.  It also monitors the capacity of the bus, the bus schedule (how often it will arrive, giving the DSS the opportunity to monitor individual buses as needed.


So far this strategy seems to be a success, and it’s likely that they will soon be able to expand this service to other buses and other hotels as well in the greater Las Angeles area, which means even more guest that are arriving in the area can enjoy the benefits of the digital signage and digital screens that residents have become accustomed to seeing on their buses daily.



In the next wave or generation of digital signage and large screen technology, you can expect to see more interactive displays, with more touch screen and usefulness.  Think of it this way, you’ll be able to do more and human interaction will become less prominent because artificial intelligence will take over those roles.


Here’s an interesting twist on the use of digital signs at bus stops that help keep travellers busy while the buses stop and wait for new passengers to get on or get off.  On the top of bus stops there are signs that allow you to text them and talk to them.  It’s called Bus.Tops and they are popping up all over England.  It’s a really fun and creative way to help entertain travellers.  The creativity is awesome and you can thank the Arts Council in London for the terrific idea!



Finally I want to talk about an idea for public transportation that has been around for quite some time, but is really evolving- entertainment screens in the back of the seat in front of you.  I noticed this on a Delta flight I took last year and really loved the idea.  The flight attendant sold headphones for $1 and you could plug in and watch sports, the news and various other programs.  They even had some premium shows that can only be found on HBO, which I thought was pretty cool.  Of course you had to pay a bit more for those, but still it made a 9 hour flight much more interesting to say the least.


It’s an exciting time to be alive because we are seeing technology really grow and bloom.  As the video technology becomes more interactive, I can only imagine that it’s just going to get better, so stay tuned, because you can expect great things in the future.  It’s looking bright and it only looks like we’re going up from here.  I can’t wait until the day where everything is connected, and while using public transport you won’t even need your own personal communication device (laptop, mp3 player, etc.) but instead you’ll be able to access whatever you want at a terminal, and hopefully it will remain free as a way to entice visitors to use their service.  It’s definitely exciting times we live in and I see the future as only being more exciting.