In 2018, public transport, in particular our railways, was at the heart of heated discussion by all industry stakeholders in the UK. In September, an independent government rail review was launched with its recommendations expected to be implemented by 2020. Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, announced six outcomes from the review – customers at the heart, clear accountability, value for money, driving economic growth, stronger communities, and inspiring our workforce.
Progress is being made in the widespread access to smart ticketing but we are still in the early stages of a truly frictionless travel experience. As an industry, we must continue to place customer needs at the centre of our transport systems. But what steps will be made in 2019 towards creating a brighter future.
1. Mobile: the key to convenience
Investment from industry stakeholders, has provided a platform for more convenient forms of ticketing such as mobile ticketing. At Rambus, we see mobile as the critical ingredient for the future of public transport, not only from a customer convenience standpoint, but also in providing critical travel data for better transport planning.
Whilst physical smartcards are widely used for smart ticketing, challenges exist when it comes to user experience. Ease of access and reliability are two key areas that must be addressed. Smartcards are a secure form for customers to use, but they must apply for and wait for their card to be delivered. It is also imperative that tickets or value held on the card are delivered to ensure customers have confidence when travelling.
In 2019 and beyond, we believe secure mobile ticketing will be the key driver in the greater adoption of smart ticketing.
Mobile allows passengers to cut through these obstacles with the ability to self-serve; receiving information and tickets anytime, anywhere.
With mobile, customers are able to register and purchase a ticket immediately and download it to their phone. From here, passengers can then join up useful information to better plan for their journeys; checking if services are running on time, the location of a station, and also how to get there.
2. Connecting Services: integrating public and private transport
Whilst Mobility as a Service (MaaS) continues to be much talked about, we expect to see a move towards Ticketing as a Service (TaaS) in 2019. TaaS enables passengers to travel across multi-modal transport systems seamlessly, with the correct fare being calculated in the back office. It fits well with an account-based ticketing approach, but what is key is that open standards are used so that systems are interoperable. A customer can therefore use the same identifier, be it a smartcard or mobile phone for travel across the UK, and longer term internationally.
Over the past five years, we have seen integration with self-hire bikes as a growing trend, Santander Cycles being one such example. However, we expect to also see an integration to include private transport schemes, like taxis and Uber. Traditionally, private transport schemes have been perceived as competition to public transport operators. But more and more, providing a link to public transport is very important. This is especially the case in rural areas, where it is often difficult to commute to and from the station. This integration is something we expect to push more people off the road and onto public transport, as growing convenience runs parallel with patronage. The added benefit of this of course, is then reducing pollution, creating a greener future.
3. Going green: saving the planet one bus at a time
According to the World Health Organisation, Transport is the fastest growing source of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions, which is the largest contributor to climate change. As we move towards a smarter future, we believe that taking cars off the road, reducing paper tickets and getting people onto public transport will play a key role in helping to improve our environment.
As our city populations continue to grow, traffic pollution is an increasing issue which needs to be addressed. To reduce our carbon footprint and improve air quality, improved public transport is the answer. We expect in 2019 that low or zero emission vehicles will be more widely deployed such as electric buses and more initiatives to remove private cars from city centres.
4. Smarter choices developing smarter cities
As smart ticketing deployments continue to expand, we are presented with a huge opportunity to leverage data to improve public transport services for passengers and build smarter cities. In 2019, travel data from public transport schemes will assist operators in better understanding how their customers use their services for travel. This will help planning and decision making to better tailor transport services, ticket products and other value-add services, all of which places the customer at the heart of travel ecosystems.
Utilising smart and mobile ticketing can help to support a better transport experience, reducing queues and improving efficiencies during peak times. The iMOVE test bed in Melbourne, Australia is a stellar example of this. By collecting data from cars, cyclists, public transport, traffic infrastructure and pedestrians, the test bed aims to create a transport system that is user-focused and more responsive to disruption. We expect to see other cities, including those in the UK to take key learnings from such examples and take a similar approach.
5. 5G and beyond
5G is another key technology we expect to have a real impact on transport in 2019. 5G will supercharge the uptake of mobile technology use in public transport by allowing complete connectivity end-to-end across public transport networks. In doing so, real-time information will become more available, allowing for transport services to be better managed by transport planners and operators.
Commuters will also directly benefit from 5G in 2019. As connectivity and mobiles go hand in hand, the ability to self-serve on mobile will only improve; allowing commuters to better plan their journeys, enjoy instant access to transport information and securely download tickets faster. 5G is another key development emphasising the need for mobile ticketing in the UK, which must be recognised and adopted by the industry.