HSL combined all web services under one roof – CGI involved in renewing the user interface

HSL has implemented an extensive reform of its online services, including the incorporation of the popular Reittiopas journey planner in hsl.fi. The project was carried out in a multi-vendor environment, with CGI Finland responsible for the renewal of the Reittiopas user interface.

In the spring of 2020, Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) launched a major online service reform with the goal of improving the usability of the new website. The aim was also to ensure that all the necessary information related to public transport could be found on the website faster. For this reason, the previously separate Reittiopas service was combined under the same roof with other HSL online services.

“We’ve made the look and feel of our website and the journey planner even clearer. Special attention has also been paid to accessibility. The starting point for the reform was the needs and wishes of our customers,” says Milla Laita, product owner of Digitransit at HSL.

In the multi-vendor environment, HSL’s long-term partner CGI was also responsible for the technical implementation.

“CGI has been involved in the development of the HSL Reittiopas since 2001. This has provided us with a solid understanding of the industry and customer needs. We have strong expertise in geographic information and public transport information systems,” says Elina Ruokari, Customer Relationship Manager at CGI.

Smooth cooperation across boundaries

The new user interface was built in a multi-vendor environment, where different aspects of the project, such as coding and visual design, were the responsibility of different parties.

“One success factor in the project was seamless collaboration across organisational boundaries. Since most of the results needed to be sharable from the start, particular attention has been paid to quality. In this project, all parties have certainly been motivated by the relevance of the work: the results affect the mobility of more than a million people,” says Vesa Meskanen, Systems Specialist at CGI.

The user interface renewal was implemented based on the DevOps model using agile development methods and the JavaScript React platform. The solutions will be implemented for HSL as docker micro services in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

“The Reittiopas journey planner is a popular service, which promotes the transition to lower-carbon modes of transport and provides significant time savings for end users looking for information,” explains Milla Laita from HSL.

The HSL journey planner is based on the open source Digitransit service platform, which is partially developed and maintained by CGI. The Digitransit service platform has been built with funding from the twenty owner municipalities of HSL, Traficom and the TVV ticket and payment systems for the routing of public transport in Finnish urban areas.

The HSL Reittiopas service is the most popular online transport service Finland. HSL and CGI have been developing public transport services together for 30 years.

Raed more about the cooperation between CGI Finland and HSL in another case story Helsinki Region Journey Planner and automated accessibility testing.

Advanced analytics is reforming public transport

Smooth information flow results in smooth public transport flow. The new reporting platform of LMJ, an IT procurement and service company operating in 21 urban areas, gives public transport planners more efficiency and access to previously inaccessible data.

Developing public transport is a complex process that requires the consideration of many variables. In order to make the right decisions, up-to-date and reliable information is needed on issues such as the utilisation rates, load and profitability of different lines. The challenge is often not the lack of data but its coordination and utilisation. Traditionally, a great deal of manual work was required for the calculation, decreasing not just the efficiency but also the meaningfulness of the work. Monitoring and anticipating trends is particularly challenging. In order to change this, LMJ decided to harness the potential of modern cloud technology and reporting together with CGI.

Managing data masses

In public transport, events such as purchases and the validation of tickets can amount to tens of thousands per hour, and volumes can vary considerably. In practice, the data collected from public transport consists of three basic components: ticket sales, the validation of tickets, and usage events, such as variation in passenger numbers per stop and over time. Thus, both scalability and computing power are required of the reporting platform. LMJ uses Azure as the data warehouse, and the reporting solution is Power BI, which allows data to be visualised and combined from almost any source.

The role of CGI is to optimise the use of data masses so as to support LMJ’s reporting models as well as possible. The best user and passenger experience is created when the data is presented in a form that is useful to traffic planners – that is why development work is done using agile methods and stage by stage.

“CGI took control of the project confidently. They provide us with expert insights and clearly justified development proposals on how to make the data visible for a sufficient period of time, how different data sources can be combined, and how details can be more easily accessed, for example. The cost structure of using the system has also been considered to ensure that it does not get out of hand,” comments Jari Paasikivi, CEO of LMJ.

New insights from data

LMJ’s new reporting platform allows traffic planners to look at variables deeper than at surface level and from several different perspectives. The solution also helps in financial planning, such as calculating key figures and profitability. It also allows us to influence passengers’ customer experience and create more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions.

“We will continue to test use and systematically develop the reporting platform together with CGI. I hope that as many city representatives as possible will hear about the new opportunities and participate in the development of this important service,” says Jari.

Customer benefits

  • Utilisation of data generated by public transport and efficient use of data warehouses: the best starting points for optimising public transport.
  • Cost-effective and scalable cloud service: capacity as needed, no need for in-house maintenance.
  • Time savings and efficiency for traffic planning: manual work is reduced, resources are freed up, and costs are reduced.
  • Customer-oriented development of public transport: better passenger experiences and increased customer satisfaction.

Helsinki Region Journey Planner and Automated Accessibility Testing

HSL Journey PlannerHSL Journey Planner is a service provided by Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) that in essence provides users the quickest route from point A to point B using multimodal routing. On top of getting the user to their destination in time, HSL Journey Planner also provides information about closest stops, routes, possible disruptions and vehicles in real-time.

HSL Journey Planner serves 1.7 million customers in the Greater Helsinki area providing over 2.6 million itinerary searches a month. The same UI is also used across Finland with different configurations tailored to meet the needs of each city or area. In total, there are 17 journey planners in Finland based on the same UI, geographically spanning entire Finland.


HSL Journey Planner UILast winter HSL.fi and its Journey Planner part was overhauled and a new version was released. The new version of the UI focuses on giving users the most essential information by reducing noise, and providing more contextual information such as the closest stops near the user.

The new HSL.fi won the Grand One 2021 award for the best web service in Finland. HSL.fi was commended for its scalability and ability to serve the diverse user base, offering the essentials for both power and casual users. HSL Journey Planner and HSL.fi create a cohesive unit which would have not been possible without seamless co-operation between CGI, Solita and Futurice.


 “Accessibility is the practice of making your websites usable by as many people as possible”

WHO estimates that about 15% of the world’s population, over a billion people, has some form of a disability. Without accessible websites a huge number of users are left out – A loss for both the users and the service providers.

But accessibility also benefits people without any disabilities. For example elderly people, users of lower spec devices and power users. Contrast requirements may help people with poor vision but also someone who is browsing the site on a phone in bright daylight. Keyboard navigation may be vital to those who navigate the site with screen readers or cannot use the mouse but may also benefit a power user who prefers to use keyboard shortcuts for quick navigation.

EU directive

A new EU directive in 2015 lead to a surge of interest and challenges with accessibility. Many development teams started to implement accessibility as an add-on to already existing services in the wake of the new laws. These teams often face challenges when trying to make an already finished website accessible as an afterthought.

The directive requires certain web services to meet certain standard requirements, provide an accessibility statement and a feedback mechanism. The standard that the web services must meet is the Web Content Accessibility Guideline 2.1 (WCAG2.1), by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

EU Directive timeline


wcga2.1 principlesWCAG2.1 standard provides four basic principles, which are base for set of requirements that aim to ensure that as many people can access the information as possible. Fulfilling the WCAG2.1 standard does not automatically mean that the site is accessible by everyone but it is the best unified standard we have available.

From the basic principles we can deduce that some of the requirements are perhaps subjective and difficult to evaluate. But actually a newly developed AXE accessibility testing engine promises to find up to 50% of the WCAG2.1 related accessibility problems automatically.

Technical tools

Axe is an open-source accessibility testing engine for websites and other HTML-based user interfaces. It was built to integrate with existing environments to easily automate web accessibility testing along with regular testing.  Axe is actively supported by Deque systems, a major accessibility vendor. The Axe engine is currently used by the biggest players in the industry, including Google.

Axe differs from the other automated accessibility testing tools such as react-a11y by testing the accessibility of the actual rendered website as opposed to just validating the syntax of the code. Axe can test a web page or a component against WCAG standards and help towards the best practices such as HTML semantics with header tags and aria labels.

There are many different ways to integrate AXE into your workflow but one of the most productive uses is to create automated accessibility tests with it. Axe can be used together with Selenium webdriver to open up the website, simulate normal use and test the accessibility holistically. Using the Selenium webdriver means that the tests can also be easily integrated into existing end-to-end tests that are industry standard.


What kind of benefits would these accessibility tests provide? The obvious benefits for developers are less manual testing and more confidence that the changes are not breaking accessibility. The less obvious benefits are that it spreads knowledge about accessibility to developers and provides a metric for accessibility. It is easier to improve things you can measure and the metric can also be used to support business decisions. This constantly updated metric can also easily be translated into an accessibility statement, which shows the current accessibility problems of the page. A metric that shows the trend of improving accessibility is also for covering the project legally. It can be used to document that a reasonable effort has been made towards accessibility.


Start early with accessibility in the development process, don’t try to implement it as an afterthought. Integrate automated accessibility tests into your pipeline and start measuring accessibility now. Provide equal access to everyone and don’t miss out on a huge number of possible users.

Over a billion people is not marginal.

Aleksi Siitari

Text by Aleksi Siitari, Consultant, CGI

The act on Transport Services – Mobility is a service

The Finnish Act on Transport Services has been described as globally groundbreaking and unique in the field of transport sector legislation. What led to the creation of this law?

Earlier, the transport market in Finland was strictly regulated and guided by public measures. At the same time, however, the digitalisation of transport was emerging, and the digital knowledge, communication and automation were becoming an essential part of all kinds of transportation. Finland wanted to be the forerunner in this section, which led to the development of the Act on Transport Services. One of the reasons behind creating the Act was also to promote fairness of competition in the passenger transport market and competitiveness of the service providers of both passengers and goods transport.

Solution: A unique transport sector legislation

The new Act on Transport Services, created in 2017, aims at proactively supporting new transport services and innovation through significant regulatory change. The Act granted access to data on timetables and pricing of different transport providers and deregulated taxi transport, also allowing third parties to sell transport tickets by opening ticket interfaces.

The Act was prepared in an open manner, in cooperation with different kinds of stakeholder groups and business representatives. As digitalisation was proceeding and intelligent transport systems were being developed further, the consensus was that the Act should enable future transport solutions and improved services to citizens and users.

The Act was expected to promote novel service concepts and innovation in businesses by encouraging old and new actors to rethink. The new legislation also paved the way for new mobility services and applications by removing barriers. These kinds of new services and apps are thought to encourage people to choose for example carpooling, taxi or public transport instead of a car.

Implementation: The Act was carried out in three stages

The Act on Transport Services was carried out in three stages due to its wide-ranging content.

In the first stage, provisions on road transport were brought together under the Act on Transport Services. A significant part of the regulations concerning the transport of people and goods was combined and renewed. The Act eased the regulations in the taxi industry especially.

A central aim of the Act on Transport Services is to promote digitalisation of transport services and more efficient use of data. The data regulation, which aims at creating prerequisites for open data and a better use of data resources, was a central element in the first stage. The Act sets out new obligations for transport service providers regarding the interoperability of information and ticketing systems, as well as the openness of interfaces.

Provisions on air, maritime and rail transport markets and on the qualifications of transport personnel were added in the second stage. The second stage of the Act also continued the opening of data regarding the use of mobility services.

Providing travel chains and combined services was made easier by enabling service provides to act on behalf of another person. This means that a provider of a combined mobility service can incorporate tickets for all modes of transport, car renting services, different kinds of seasonal and serial products and discounts by acting on the customer’s wishes and on their behalf.

Viewed from the international perspective, in Finland the authorities’ registers are very precise and exhaustive, and better utilisation of them could be a significant competitive factor. Reform of the regulation on transport registers strengthens the possibilities of those in the register to use their own data themselves and to benefit from better mobility services. The reform means considerable deregulation, as about ten current registers relating to transport and the separate laws concerning them were consolidated to form one integrated register of transport affairs that contain data on operator permits, transport vehicles and personal licenses such as professional qualifications.

The third stage of the project finalised the Act. Provisions were laid down on professional qualifications, preparedness, opening up of postal information for development purposes, and positioning in heavy road transport and railway and rail transport.

The Act entered into force, for the most part, on 1 July 2018.

Results: In legislation, mobility is now seen as a whole

The Act on Transport Services is an extremely extensive regulation reformation that brought together and streamlined regulation, enabled deregulation of transport markets and created globally groundbreaking regulation. In legislation, mobility is now seen the same way as in peoples´ everyday lives: not as single bus lines or railways but as a whole.

The user orientation and data regulation involved in the Act aligned Finland with the global forerunners in promoting a large-scale change in the transport market. By enabling new kinds of mobility services, we are striving for better fluency and safety of transports as well as significant emission reductions. New mobility services are also expected to reduce the use of private cars and enable the huge potential growth of service market.

Along with the data regulation in the Act on Transport Services, mobility service providers have opened a wealth of interfaces for essential data, and the opening of sales interfaces has also started. According to feedback from operators, new services and systems have actively been developed.

The number of companies and drivers in the taxi field has increased considerably, and the services and pricing models seem to have diversified.

The key aim of the Act on Transport Services was to support long-term processes of change. Therefore, final conclusions about its effects should only be drawn later.

Finland recognised for implementing forward-looking policy

Act on Transport Services has gained international recognition. Finland was awarded an important recognition for its merits in implementing a forward-looking communications policy and legislation. The GSMA Government Leadership Award was presented to Finland in Barcelona on 26 February 2019.

In the award justifications, Finland was praised for its forward-looking communications policy as part of the transformation of transport. The new Act on Transport Services in which data is seen as an integral part of the transport system, as the fifth mode of transport, was mentioned as one of Finland’s central achievements.