To plan a journey: For many internet platforms and on smartphones this still requires a pre-decision to be made regarding a means of transport (airplane, train, car etc) as well as the selection of transition point/s from the ”world of the traveller“ to the “world of the transport company“, i.e. train stations, bus stations, airports etc. More and more innovative IT companies in cooperation with transport companies are providing tools to plan the journey a bit more intelligently.

MOTIS app coffee mug (C) datagon GmbHMOTIS app with coffee mug (C) datagon GmbHIt would be nice to find a journey proposal “from door to door“ which is “optimal” in relationto other preferences which the traveller may have, such as duration of the trip, price, comfort, etc. A business traveller may, for example, prefer a time-saving route. If he has an appointment at a distant location early in the morning, he might prefer a night train over a journey with hotel booking or a very early flight if, that is, the timetable information system were to offer him such alternatives. A student with a government loan would probably prefer an inexpensive route. And a mother with two toddlers and lots of luggage who wants to see grandfather and grandmother is likely to want to avoid train changes.

To achieve this level of choice, however, it is necessary to calculate a route which, as well as providing the usual information about stops (bus, train, tram), timetables and the street network, also provides ”multi-criterial“ features to calculate the route. That, then, would allow travellers with differing and various preferences, such as those mentioned above, to identify optimal travel alternative for themselves. This was exactly the innovative approach of MOTIS (multi objective travel information system) back in 2001 and which still continues to offer these advantages.

MOTIS is so modular that additional preferences can be added with little effort. For instance, during a research project, it will be examined  whether the use of a park and ride facility would lead to a better route to the destination; whether guiding the traveller through large train stations or airports can produce more realistic transit times; or whether realtime information which is partly based upon crowd sourcing approaches allow for recommendations of alternative routes, etc.

Furthermore, one would expect the system to offer route alternatives when temporary problems are expected (e.g. road closures or changes due to construction work). And we would wish to get some advice, if delays and cancellations are to be expected, so that the traveller could still arrive at his destination in an optimal way.

Another important point for modern mobility solutions is the "intermodal travel chain". What this means is that the travel route should combine all accessible means of transportation. So, for example, could means of transport be added before the start or at the end of the journey for the “last mile” which are usually not subsumed under public transportation (bicycle, taxi, car sharing etc).  

Those who want to know the advantages, particularly in respect to technical aspects in more detail, may find many additional interesting, technical and functional details in Unique features of MOTIS as well as in the article Multimodal travel planning: focussing timetable-dependent transport. MOTIS is now also available as First MOTIS Open Source Release available !

MOTIS arose from initiatives within the scope of our many years of consulting work for Deutsche Bahn AG with their financial support at the TU Darmstadt (Department of Computer Science, Algorithmics - Prof. Dr. Karsten Weihe). Later, impulses for further development came from our work in research projects. For MOTIS we offer consulting and support in the development of mobility solutions as well as participation in research projects. We see ourselves as a link between real-world mobility tasks and algorithmic research.