Public transport trends beyond digitalization

We are entering an era of change in public transport. The last decade has been focused on the digitalization of this industry. Typical achievements in that period were mobile passenger information systems and automated fare collection (AFC). Travel information is now exposed by smartphones, and travel tickets are commonly available on contactless smart cards. These have been key developments to get ready for the future.

Now, finally, public transport authorities are shifting their attention beyond automation, towards customer-centric offerings. Even with all technology advancements so far, there has still been only limited progress to make travel seamless and pleasant. As a traveler, I demand comfortable door-to-door transport, meaningful passenger information and attractive pricing without hassle for payments. There is usually not a single ultimate manner to get to your destination. Whether you need a bus, tram, metro, car or bike will often depend on the occasion, time and distance. Most important is to have a good mix of available transport choices, which fulfil the required characteristics, like comfort, time-to-destination, etc.

So how to travel easily among those different types of transport? This is where integrated mobility becomes important. For my trip planning I need a co-modal travel planner, which selects the best travel path across travel services at that moment. Also, I would like to fulfil that journey with just one single ticket or subscription. Such combined mobility services will provide the one-stop-shop travel offering that makes it easy to travel and make better travel choices. This emerging business model is also known as Mobility-as-a-Service. An early pilot of the firm Ubigo already demonstrated that 50% of people offered such a service changed their behavior, especially towards public transport and car sharing. And even more important, 92% were satisfied with using the service.

A first stepping stone to developing this type of service is to obtain integrated public transport in a country. A good example is Translink, which created the integrated transaction service in The Netherlands by means of the contactless smart card. Their ‘OV Chip Card’ enables travel on any bus, tram, metro and train anywhere in the country. Now Translink is getting ready for even more efficient and innovative offerings in cooperation with Ericsson. This enables Translink to introduce services like account based ticketing and mobile ticketing. These services now become a reality thanks to real-time connected services and travelers.

The pace of change is only increasing and is disruptive for most stakeholders in the transport industry. My belief is that the winners will be the firms that embrace this disruption and cooperate with leaders outside their traditional industry. In the Networked Society, Ericsson’s mission is to empower the transport industry to reach its full potential. This will make sure that the travelers are finally getting the attention they deserve. Having the ability to move wherever they want, with the means of transport that is suitable for that moment, without bothering about payments.

This is a guest post by Tim Wouda, new business developer at Ericsson’s Intelligent Transport Systems department.

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