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I am the smart commuter – 10 Hot Consumer Trends

Editor's note: Today we are pleased to feature a guest post from Rebecka Cedering-Ångström, Senior Advisor at Ericsson’s ConsumerLab.

“Uhm, this is the train conductor. We will leave in a few minutes. There is just a queue of trains we need to wait for. However, due to the faulty signals we will only go as far as Solna.”

My thoughts? “Argh. Here we go again. Can’t believe it! I need to get of this train.”

I rush for the doors and the next thing I know, I’m standing on a rainy platform, in the middle of nowhere. It is about 4 degrees Celsius and I’m freezing to bits. Naturally I forgot my mittens on the train, so my fingers feel like popsicles when I text my colleagues that I will take all meetings from home today. Still, I am happy that I listened to my gut feeling and got off that train. Why? Because I know how this goes. You get the information from the speaker system saying that this will only take a few minutes. That is ok, but when they change the final destination you know that something is up.

I have done this so many times I don’t care to count them. That is also why I know that, had I continued with the train, I probably would had made it to work using a mix of buses and trains. But getting home on time would be a totally different story. These things usually take a whole day to fix.

Painful? Yes, but I am not alone. In June 2015 we released a study looking at the commuting situation in London, New York, Sao Paulo and Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, many commuters experience commuting as stressful, tiresome and even frustrating.

What makes it so painful is not only the stress of catching the bus or the overcrowded platforms. It is also about time and being able to predict how long the commute will take. Actually, commuters spend a lot of time in transit and daily commuting. On average, it is 6.5 hours per week. In fact, we spend more time commuting than we do socializing with friends. And who wouldn’t rather spend time with their friends than sitting idly on a crowded train (or standing on a cold, rainy platform like in my case)? Time is precious and I am not prepared to let faulty signals eat into mine.

But we are smart, my fellow commuters and I. We use technology and all possible services to improve our situation, as we highlight in this year’s set of hot consumer trends. In my case, there is a good app working in my area that can tell me if the train is on time or if a carriage is crowded. I can also check the local news that covers the current situation for all trains on that route. But none of these services can give me all the information I need, especially when I am already on the train.

Like today, I would have wanted the information that the train wasn’t going to make it to Solna, as they announced on the train’s speaker system – I learned that on the platform, two minutes after the train had left. The poor people who stayed onboard probably didn’t find out until it was too late; in between stations, standing motionless waiting for the train queue to move. It was my gut that told me to get off – my app doesn’t provide that type of information.

Commuters want an improvement and are expecting transport companies to offer more and better information to help navigate their way. Of the people we talked to, 86% would use personalized services if they were available.

Still, I like to take the train to work, and my reasons for that are many. However, I am looking forward to when I can fully enjoy the trip without risking surprises that leave me standing on a cold and rainy platform. I would like smart information when I need it. Thankfully, today I had my gut to guide me and I now work from home instead of having to try to find alternative route to get home (like my unfortunate neighbor is doing right now).

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