Public transport has played an essential role in the urban landscape since the 19th century. What is also referred to as public transportation, public transit, or mass transit, has evolved considerably since then. Over the past years, this sector has seen a number of transformative trends. A mix of urban development, market and technology-driven factors, along with new players. Increased attention to air quality and health have also ushered in sustainable and active travel in a number of countries.
About a decade ago, the advent of smart mobility services, such as the ride-hailing app Uber, disrupted transportation habits. The platform has kept growing and evolving over its first decade of success, harnessing the likes of Big Data and AI, now accounts for 69.0% market share in the United States for passenger transport, with an estimated estimated 110 million worldwide users.
Although it always seems as though the networks in cities like London and New York are pretty busy, the overall use of the public transport systems in major UK and US cities is actually decreasing.
For example, London’s transport authority is experiencing decreased revenues and looking at reconfiguring bus routes across the British capital, with the possible consequence of eliminating some of them. Certain planned upgrades to the London Underground have been delayed. In the United States, cities like New York and Boston are experiencing similar phenomena.
Within the context of the sharing economy, a number of emerging apps are proving to be more cost effective and more congenial to the public than traditional public transport in the world’s major cities, especially to Millennials (who will soon account for 50% of the working population in the US). We’re also seeing human-powered mobility options such as pay-as-you-go bicycle hire or scooter services. Innovative as they may be, these services do not have the capacity to meet all citizens’ mobility needs: efficient, innovative, and seamless mobility paradigms need to be rolled out, combining public transport systems with other smart mobility services.
With air pollution at alarmingly high levels, and fossil fuels not only contributing but also rapidly advancing towards depletion, efficient and widely adopted public transport solutions have a crucial role to play in our future well-being, because as the United States Federal Transit Administration states: “Public transportation can help metropolitan areas meet national air quality standards by reducing overall vehicle emissions and the pollutants that create smog.
In its newly published report, UITP, the International Association of Public Transport and a passionate champion of sustainable urban mobility states that “public transport is (…) expected to build personalised mobility services through data-driven transit design and the application of artificial intelligence. This creates the possibility of moving towards an integrated and intelligent mobility, powered by smart use of data and digital marketing solutions. The sector must work to serve a diverse range of customers, including all personalities, from elderlies to millennials, whose lifestyle choices have an impact on mobility.”
“Customer expectations are changing, and transport is now expected to create a memorable experience for customers. It involves providing a global, fluid and integrated mobility customer experience; ease of use and comfort are key for user satisfaction and market differentiation. Public transport is also expected to build personalised mobility services through data-driven transit design and the application of artificial intelligence. This creates the possibility of moving towards an integrated and intelligent mobility, powered by smart use of data and digital marketing solutions.”
Besides getting from A to B, a key factor in the mobility customer’s experience is being kept informed about all the variables or options that impact their journey, both in practical terms and from a security standpoint. In this case, the customer journey is both in the figurative and literal sense. The most natural way to deliver transport-related information to customers engaged in the seamless travel experience involves a mix of voice interaction and Artificial Intelligence. Use cases include public announcements on station platforms, onboard, at bus stops, and on device.
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