IMPACTS: Boosting passenger safety in Croatia and Türkiye through a collaborative system

Public transport is a crucial aspect of urban mobility, allowing people to commute, socialise, and explore their cities safely and cost-effectively. However, issues such as overcrowding, limited digitalisation, outdated reporting mechanisms, and diminished perceived safety can discourage its use, leading to missed opportunities for multimodal mobility, traffic reduction, and citizen feedback.

To address these issues, the IMPACTS project (Inclusive Mobility: Public and Collaborative Trusted Spaces) aimed to create a human-centric public transport system that promotes passenger safety, encourages support for fellow travellers, and collects feedback to improve the services and urban environment.

The one-year project, led by the Technical University of Berlin and supported by EIT Urban Mobility, started in January and ended in December 2023. Within the project, IMPACTS developed and tested a sociotechnical tool, WizGo, which connects (i) passengers of mobility services in proximity off- and online and (ii) allows users to report issues in the urban environment to the respective mobility provider.

The cities of Dugopolje (Croatia) and Istanbul (Türkiye) partnered with the project to improve their transportation services as well as rural and urban environments. Testing WizGo in these two distinct environments, with active participation from people, provided valuable feedback to further refine the application. As a result, it became clear that social community apps in public spaces offer different benefits, highlighting the need and desire for instant and local community support.

The IMPACTS project in Croatia

As part of the pilot project in Dugopolje, the IMPACTS initiative placed a strong emphasis on enhancing passenger connectivity within the broader Split area. The goal was to elevate the public transportation experience for students and employees by implementing tools designed to facilitate the identification of co-passengers, based on various criteria.

This approach aimed to achieve greater comfort, passenger safety, and travel efficiency. WizGo was tested on suburban bus lines passing through Dugopolje (lines 35, 35A, and 69), and provided passengers the opportunity to connect while waiting for the bus. This innovative feature fostered a sense of security and community support among passengers, thereby improving connections and leading to better experiences in public transport.

A representative of the Dugopolje Municipality, Marija Čipčić, highlighted the transformative nature of the IMPACTS project, stating: 

“IMPACTS is a groundbreaking initiative that not only improves public transportation but also builds passenger communities. It signifies a significant step towards a more humane, secure, and efficient way of traveling, contributing to environmental conservation and better utilization of urban space. The project transcends technical innovations, focusing on creating an environment where passengers feel supported and safe while using public transport. In the Dugopolje pilot project, the emphasis was on establishing a model that will serve as a foundation for future improvements in public transportation and passenger connectivity in the broader Dugopolje area.”

The IMPACTS project in Türkiye

In Istanbul, the IMPACTS project was piloted in a historic peninsula, targeting visitors to support their transportation experience and digitise the current feedback mechanisms. Specifically, the pilot was conducted on Istanbul’s T1 Tramway line from 2 to 6 October, incorporating an initial workshop with the participation of project partners and other stakeholders.

Following the workshop, steps were taken to enable the target users to download, use, and give feedback on the WizGo application on the T1 Tramway line. The primary objective was to boost the sense of security within the line, while allowing people to provide feedback to local authorities on urban transport and the surrounding environment. This feedback loop was designed to help local authorities improve service delivery and urban planning by using insights from users in real time.

Outcomes of the project

Through the use of the WizGo app, passengers in Dugopolje experienced increased satisfaction with urban transport connectivity, while in Istanbul, passengers reported feeling more secure and safe. These outcomes underline the positive impact of a tailored application like WizGo on user satisfaction and urban mobility effectiveness. The WizGo application can thus play a significant role in providing effective services and increasing the use of public transport.

To conclude, the IMPACTS project successfully enhanced online and offline connections among passengers, empowering them to report urban environment issues. Martin Schlecht, coordinator of the IMPACTS project at TU Berlin, further stressed the opportunities resulting from the project collaboration:

“The IMPACTS project proved the power of passenger communities as the ultimate catalyst to improve public transport. With the right digital tool, citizens can actively shape the transport environment and contribute to an immediate feeling of safety and comfort in public transport, not only for themselves but for the entire community.”