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How Public Transport can bounce back better post COVID

Open Data

With the new government guidelines that came into force on 7th January 2021, transport providers are now contracted by law, to make their ticket and vehicle location data open and free.

This will have a hugely positive impact on the progression of public transport infrastructure, as it will remove the barriers once created, by private companies keeping data to themselves on the assumption that it would give them a competitive advantage. The disadvantage to this previous system, was that the correct transport infrastructure could not be added (bus lanes, stops, routes) because the data was not available for Local and Transport Authorities to use, in order to make better decisions.

Now however, this data will be available, meaning that the public transport systems can be improved, to encourage increased ridership and promote an interconnected transport solution.

Not only this, but it will mean that there will be more information and data available to passengers, allowing for a far greater user experience. No longer will passengers spend hours waiting for a bus that they hope will eventually arrive. Open data allows companies to provide this data to passengers, so they no longer lose trust in the services provided.

Collaboration

There are many problems that the public transport industry faces however the main one is stigma. The companies and transport authorities that work in the industry are numerous however the public perception is twofold, private transport (Car, Taxi) and public transport.

Unfortunately, the division in the public transport industry has meant that it is seen as unreliable, inefficient and expensive compared to private transport. As a result, people would rather sit in huge traffic jams than take public transport as it’s still seen as a more convenient form of transportation.

If there was more collaboration between authorities, logistics providers and operators then these problems would be reduced, and people would begin to use public transport again. Take London as an example, their transport infrastructure utilises private contracts with companies but is controlled by a governing body, meaning that it is the preferred choice of transport when travelling round London.

Transport infrastructures such as London, also provide multi-modal public transport, meaning that if one mode of transport fails, then passengers can still get to their destination because other alternative solutions are available. This is where public transport can surpass private transport, as it’s able to provide more options and therefore reliability. If these solutions could be interconnected more, through timetable sharing and using data analytics providing passengers with the best/fastest route, then more people would jump on public transport, ticket prices could come down and problems caused by private transport, such as congestion and pollution would become less problematic.

Adoption of technology industry wide

With the threats of climate change and congestion causing logistical nightmares in cities and towns across the world, there has never been a better opportunity to make better advancements in public transport technology.

it’s a positive sign to see more sustainable vehicles being used in public transport. Electric, hybrid and hydrogen powered vehicles are becoming more common and replacing environmentally damaging petrol-powered transport vehicles. Also, because public transport vehicles are more regulated, they are ahead of legislation and therefore more advanced than private vehicles in this area, meaning it’s a great opportunity to promote public transport usage as a more environmentally friendly solution.

We are also beginning to see the benefits of technology and data on the reliability of public transport. Through technology solutions (like our Origin platform) timetables are becoming more flexible and demand driven, resources are being allocated correctly and issues are being logged and improved upon. These are just a few improvements for operators and transport authorities. Passengers are also benefiting from better customer experience (with technology like Rygo) through real-time information, digital ticketing, live ETA stats, easy route planning software, digital and dynamic timetables, direct passenger incident/issue raising, better travel experience and live vehicle tracking.

COVID-19 may have seemed like a major setback for transport, however, it allows a unique opportunity to dramatically change and transform the infrastructure, in order to make substantial improvements and change to public transport globally.

Written by Andy Coulson

January 22, 2021

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