The route of the bus running between Itäkeskus and Westend does not change but the route gets brand new buses. HSL also launches a trial of open fare collection on the route, which means passengers can board the buses also through the middle doors.
The color of trunk routes is a vibrant orange. The orange color indicates a metro-like service with frequent and regular intervals. The vibrant and eye-catching color also stands out well. HSL plans to introduce in total 12 similar frequently running trunk routes by 2022.
The route is operated by Helsingin Bussiliikenne Oy. The buses used on the route are Scania Scala buses manufactured by Lahden Autokori. The buses equipped with air conditioning and camera surveillance have a seating capacity of 52 passengers and a standing room for 58.
The buses use a satellite positioning system to get signal priorities. Passengers can see the arrival time of the next bus on displays at bus stops. Passengers can also see the next stops along the route on displays on the buses.
Scania Scala K 280 UB6X2 buses are 14.5 meters long and they weight 14,500 kg. The buses are EEV compliant diesel buses. They also have a driving style monitoring system and an Electronic Stability Control system.
Boarding through the middle doors
HSL wants to speed up the journey times on route 550 by introducing open fare collection on the route. If you have a season ticket or another valid ticket, you don't have to show it to the driver or card reader but can board the bus directly through the front or middle doors. There is a card reader also by the middle doors for passengers wishing to purchase value tickets. Drivers sell single tickets as before.
In case only the front door is open, passengers can open the middle door by pressing a button outside the door.
Open fare collection is tested on route 550; decision on the future will be made next year on the basis of the experiences gained.
More reliable timetables through timing points
Route 550 has timing points to ensure regular intervals. Buses must not pass the timing points ahead of time. In the direction of Westendin asema, the timing points are Viikki Science Park (Viikin tiedepuisto), Oulunkylä station, Hämeenlinnanväylä and Leppävaara; in the direction of Itäkeskus, the timing points are Leppävaara, Vihdintie and Oulunkylä station.