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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Multimodal or Door to door: Travel search reimagined

Multimodal search is a hot topic in 2013.

Multimodal could be defined by combining metro (subway), train, bus, bicycle, walk or car to go from one place to another. The other terminology used is "door to door", in that case, you have to add taxi and black car (car with chauffeur). Multimodal is emerging mainly due to the high speed train network, but also due to the sustainable travel trend (reduce CO2 emission and fossile energy cost).

EU is very engaged in multimodal search ... You can have a look at European commission multi-modal Journey Planner project here.

What is very interesting is to see is how many companies are trying to promote such planning engines, some to promote their own product they want to sell:
- car vendor: for example citroen with multicity
- Train : Db Germany or SNCF innovation lab new myTripSet
- a simple user playing with Google maps here
- mtrotter a mobile app
- you can also contribute to OpenTripPlanner Mobile and crowndfund it!

Now, due to Google open GTFS platform and API, static and Real-time Transit information could also be used (see here). GTFS benefits from the Open data movement really well developped in transportation in the USA and UK. I know that France is very late on the subject, even if some companies are evolving in the right direction (SNCF, RATP). Of course, we can imagine that Google will provide multimodal soon, within Google Now or Google Maps or Google Travel suite of tools.

I have to admit that my preferred multimodal tool is Rome2Rio. Blazing fast and accurate even on mobile.

KDS Neo is second on my list, but I have to admit that I did not have a chance to play with it directly (just saw demo).

The remaining issue is that most of these tools are great for planning ... not for booking ... since not every "trip segment" can be booked online. But most of them or mobile ready since day one.