The UITP summit is indisputably the largest and most significant public transport event in the world. With over 2,500 participants from 84 nations gathering in Montreal, Canada to participate, it was a truly global event.
The summit was held from 15 – 17 May and I was fortunate enough to attend not just the conference but the post-event study tour too. If you could not attend, here’s a recap of what was said, what happened and who was there.
Think beyond buses and trains
A big takeaway for me was that public transport isn’t just buses, trains and trams. It includes bike-sharing, car-sharing and other Uber-like on-demand services. Commuters consider public transport usage in the context of these other modes, and that means the way we think needs to change too.
There were some great conversations about the fast-changing nature of public transport around the globe. A trend of decreasing ridership in North America was noted; some perceive this to be due to the availability and affordability of car-sharing options, but it could also be correlated to falling capital expenditure and a failure to renew public transport assets as passenger numbers in South America, Asia and Europe have risen.
One thing was very clear to me. Technology is the key enabler for public transport to succeed.
- Speakers called for truly multimodal technology that can knit together buses, trains, trams and ferries as well as car-sharing and bike-sharing options for the user’s consumption.
- Leading transport agencies are becoming data-driven organisations, analysing big data (such as operational, ticketing and passenger information) to create higher quality services and better mobility solutions.
- Seamless ticketing solutions and electric buses were also mentioned as other necessities to increase the appeal of public transport to commuters via increased convenience or green sentiments.
Embrace change or be left behind – Right from the opening session, the message was clear. The rapid changes in technology are heralding a world of change for public transport. The revolution is here and we, as an industry, must adapt quickly.
There was still some ‘Uber is evil’ feeling here and there but on the whole, the sentiment was that we should focus on figuring out how to work with or alongside these new players to provide even better services for passengers – “let’s work out how we can complement instead of compete with each other”.
Big data will show us the way to better public transport – Big data and digitisation dominated discussions. There was talk of combining the data already being collected by real-time passenger information (RTPI) and ticketing systems with other data on the weather, events and so on to build scenarios and develop better mobility solutions for people.
Transport for London seems to be leading the way, with a Chief Data Officer and a team of data scientists and analysts to mine vast amounts of operational data. They use the insights generated to develop better transport solutions for their customers. (Bus operators – click here to read our eBook on how to turn your data into insights.)
Multimodal transport and MaaS are here – No longer just a buzzword, Mobility as a Service has arrived. With pilot programs running in Helsinki, Paris, Las Vegas and Singapore, personalised mobility is anticipated to go from being a nice-to-have novelty to a consumer expectation in the near future.
Some of the delegates we spoke to were looking for a complete multimodal solution that coordinates not just the traditional modes but also alternatives like bike-sharing and car-sharing. A few of our clients expressed significant interest in ride-sharing applications as a cost-effective alternative to scheduled buses or as part of a first/last mile solution.
Presentations by Trapeze Group
Trapeze was privileged enough to have not one, but two speaking spots at the UITP Summit. The first was a presentation by Peter Schneck, CEO of Trapeze Switzerland, on how the public transport industry can maximise the potential of big data. The second was a speech on using demand response technology to create a greener transport system by Udo Steinmeier, Trapeze Group Deutschland’s Head of Sales.
How Can History-Based Predictions Improve Service Quality?
Presented by Peter Schneck
This presentation focussed on the use of arrival time predictions to increase service quality. Predictions can be used by operators for better decision-making and to provide better passenger information, or as a stepping stone to more advanced functionality. The question was: what is the best way to calculate arrival and departure predictions in an AVLC solution?
Using data and calculations from London, Peter proved that history-based predictions consistently outperform the ‘traditional’ method of schedule-based prediction.
This is because schedule-based predictions assume a vehicle will keep to its schedule more or less throughout a journey – it is dependent on the schedules being carefully optimised to factor in traffic and passenger load conditions for different times and days, and the vehicle not encountering congestion during the journey.
The history-based prediction model, which has been used by Transport for London since 2007, is a self-learning system that takes into account large amounts of data (short-term data segments, long-term statistics, timetables and supplied times) to calculate predictions. It consistently gives more precise arrival/ departure times and has improved service quality for passengers.
Click here to view slide pack
Greener World With Smarter Mobility Management in Public Transport
Presented by Udo Steinmeier
This presentation showed how Germany has achieved smarter, greener mobility management by using next-generation demand response technology. There are several types of demand response services:
The move towards flexible services is motivated by:
- Demographic change
- The comparatively high cost of traditional fixed route services
- Legal obligations to make public transport more inclusive
- Mobility demand changes
- Ecological goals
Several notable customer success stories were presented, including Moobil+ and its Call-A-Bus LK Vechta service; Stadtbus Bocholt; Garantiert Mobil!; and Mobilfalt. The latter was particularly interesting as it included integration with private cars into the public transport system.
As demand response services only run when necessary, it cuts out demand-poor services – thus reducing pollution. It also addresses passenger needs, reduce operating costs and improves service, making public transport overall more attractive to commuters.
Click here to view slide pack
With a theme like ‘Leading the TRANSITion’, it was clear that the focus of the Global Summit was going to be change. Times are definitely changing for the public transport industry and we need to find ways to stay relevant and continue providing vital services to the community in the face of a rapidly evolving technological landscape. The next UITP Summit will be held in Stockholm, Sweden – I would highly recommend that you attend it if possible.
On a more personal note, it was fantastic meeting our customers from Transport for London, Public Transport Victoria, Auckland Transport, Transport for New South Wales, Go Bus, the ACT government and Tower Transit in Montreal. I highly valued your feedback and insights into your local markets and look forward to seeing you again – perhaps in Sweden!