December 28, 2016

Cubic Transportation Systems has is predicting that the new year will bring an integrated approach to smart ticketing, integrated personal mobility and further advances in autonomous vehicles.

Writing for Smart Highways, the company says the three issues will move on significantly over the next twelve months.

Its predictions in full are:

Single approach to smart ticketing  

A single integrated and easily accessible ticketing system covering multiple regions and modes of travel is central to the idea of smart travel. A single travel account will help enable economic growth, especially in North England, and should be available to the whole of the UK, not just accessed by London’s city-dwellers.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling will make the initiative a priority for his tenure, rolling it out within the next two years. Speaking at the North of England Transport Summit last week, he said, “Passengers should not have to carry a Manchester card, a Leeds card and a different one for each city and for longer journeys, bar codes on mobile phones should be available. The whole transport sector should move very rapidly towards this.”

Improved transport services will encourage greater inter-modality across cities through a compelling customer proposition. In turn, this will boost the Northern England economy, improve network optimisation and lead to reduced congestion on the surrounding highways.

Northern England is taking all the right steps in making integrated ticketing a reality, through its Smart North initiative. Once implemented, the scheme will bring Northern England benefits comparable to what the Ventra card, Oyster card and contactless payment have brought commuters and transport service operators in other major cities around the world, such as Chicago and London.

Autonomous vehicles

We are not far off from seeing futuristic transport concepts, such as driverless cars, become a reality in the UK. We are already seeing adoption of this technology in its infancy helped by large funding projects, such as Innovate UK’s ambition for full automation on our roads, and Chancellor Philip Hammond’s allocation of £390 million in the most recent Autumn Statement to bolster the development of low emission and autonomous vehicles.

However, the adoption rate of innovation doesn’t necessary just depend on the technological possibilities, but also the social implications. The technology must ensure that all passengers have paid via a valid contactless payment method on the autonomous bus – is it safe to remove bus drivers who enforce revenue protection and a certain level of safety to passengers? Would we be conformable reducing the level of child supervision? This social dynamic creates new challenges which need to be looked at and considered thoroughly.

To fully understand what the future of transport will look like, we need to look far beyond vehicle technology.

Integrated personal mobility

Smart devices will soon become the central organisational tool for all trip planning and mobility personalisation. All modes of transport will be integrated, as mobility services become mobility providers, enabling seamless, on-demand journeys. Timetables and choice of transport mode will become a thing of the past as travellers will only need to know what time to leave and when they’ll reach their destination.

This will require open use of personal data, which will transform mass transit networks despite wider concerns. An open data system, where commuters use a single travel account for all travel transactions and information – whether that’s public transport, walking, using the bike, using Uber, and so on – would give the city unprecedented insight into how people commute and what’s behind their travel choices.

However, many cities face a major challenge – growing populations are placing pressure on current infrastructure systems, leading to congestion and inefficiency. The key to engaging the public with this is the condition that data is used responsibly and for the greater good. This anonymous data is given to third-party app developers who can then use it to release innovative apps that revolutionise the way we approach travelling.

Collaboration and integration of mobility providers, technology and data investments, and an open ecosystem for sharing real-time journey data are just a few of the necessary changes the transport industry will need to make. The future of people movement is on the verge of evolving beyond anything we have ever known before.