The BusVic Maintenance Conference & Trade Show has been running for well over 60 years, but there’s always something new and interesting to learn.
If you did not attend this industry event, here’s a summary of what took place:
The presentations at BusVic were split into two streams, Management and Workshop.
I attended the Management stream talks and the keynote speech by David Bartlett, the former Premier of Tasmania (2008 – 2011).
Bartlett was hands-down the best speaker at the conference.
Before starting his career in politics, he was a CIO and innovation specialist in the IT industry so it was no surprise that he spoke at length about the growth of technology within the transport sector. He said the fact that almost everyone has access to a smart device these days is driving the advent of ridesharing apps like Uber for on-demand transport.
As you most likely know, Uber has become wildly successful in Australia – besides the one-on-one ridesharing model they started out with, they have now expanded into carpooling (UberPOOL) to transport groups of people and even delivering takeaway meals (Uber Eats).
On-demand transport turned out to be a recurring theme as there were a few other talks that briefly touched on or centred on demand responsive transport (DRT).
There was a lot of focus on the public’s demand for passenger transport and exploring the use of Uber and Lyft-like technology to meet this. There was also talk about the last mile challenge and how a company like bird.co in North America are using scooters to help solve this problem.
There wasn’t much discussion on actually having bus operators or transport authorities come up with ways of supplying on-demand transport themselves, even though this is something that has been successfully done elsewhere.
For example, Trapeze has a number of clients in North America who use our DRT solution to deliver transport on demand to commuters with a disability (paratransit).
In brief, this solution is an all-in-one that allows you to do real-time scheduling and service dispatching plus client registration trip booking if you desire. It can even integrate with third parties like Lyft so that if demand temporarily exceeds capacity, you can offload those extra bookings to them and ensure a positive customer experience.
Another option in the future is for bus operators to invest in autonomous shuttles, which can be used to get people from their homes to a main bus stop or train station to catch a scheduled line-haul service.
(Read my colleague David Panter’s whitepaper exploring this option, which includes additional ideas on how savvy bus operators can use autonomous vehicles to expand into other areas for improved profitability.)
There was also some tossing around of the idea that there could be some booking portal that ‘sits on top’ of Uber, Lyft and the like to give passengers a single place from which they can compare and book all ridesharing platforms.
The idea is to provide the best possible customer experience by eliminating the inconvenience of having to go to multiple websites or apps to work out the best way to get to your destination.
I’m pleased to say that this is actually something Trapeze is not just thinking about, but has already done with one of our clients in the Middle East.
While the ridesharing sector is much more heavily regulated in this region than it is in Australia, there are definitely some interesting ideas that we could take inspiration from over here.
The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) uses one of our solutions to integrate not just ridesharing (or eHail providers as there), but also taxi and regular public transport like buses, ferry and rail in one app.
S’hail (pictured on the right) allows public transport users to not only compare prices for different travel options, but book them as well. Learn more about this in the Dubai RTA case study.
In short, there are definitely a few options out there to consider before going down the ridesharing-only path for DRT.
Given that many bus operators have faithfully served many communities with distinction and their many years of experience in their respective areas, I am certain they will deliver good value and good service in DRT as well fixed route with the right tools.
As usual, the BusVic Maintenance Show gave me many great networking opportunities to meet bus operators from across the state and find out their latest goings-on, opinions on current events and challenges.
Special mention to our long-time customers Dyson’s, whose table I shared for the Victorian Industry Dinner, and the teams at McHarry’s and ComfortDelGro. I look forward to the next major BusVic conference in Melbourne!