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Oct 09, 2017
Find out what happened in Rotorua at New Zealand's peak bus industry conference organised by NZ BCA. By Gerard Cooper

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New Zealand Bus & Coach Association 2017 Annual Conference: Event Recap

The annual conference of the New Zealand Bus & Coach Association was held in Rotorua from 4 – 6 October 2017. If you weren’t able to make it to this peak event for the New Zealand bus industry, here’s a quick round-up of some speeches:

 

Celebrity Speaker: Paralympic Champion Liam Malone

Liam Malone Paralympic Gold MedallistOn the last day of the conference, we attended the celebrity speaker lunch where Liam Malone related his experiences to us. Liam is the second-fastest 400m in New Zealand of all time – legs or not – and his awards include the New Zealand Order of Merit, Disabled Sportsperson of the Year, M2 New Zealand Man of the Year and winner of the Sovereign Insurance 2015 ‘Make a Difference’ start-up competition.  

Liam spoke with great honesty and self-deprecating humour his inspirational journey from “rock bottom” to his incredible triumph at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, where he won three medals (two gold and one silver) and broke the previous Paralympic records set by South African Oscar Pistorius – all while studying at university and earning his Bachelor’s degree in mid-2017. He said he had to change his mindset and realize his disability was not a stumbling block.

By sharing his moving tale of overcoming adversity to achieve your goals, he impressed upon the audience the importance of dedication, commitment and willingness to make sacrifices to get what you want. It was a great motivational speech with takeaways you could apply to both personal and professional life.

 

Panel Hosting by Trapeze Group

Trapeze had the honour of chairing the ‘Mobility as a Service’ Panel on the second day of the conference. This interesting discussion featured private and public sector perspectives on mobility, on-demand transport, customer apps and what this all means for us as an industry.

'Mobility as a Service' Panel

Chaired by Scott Winks

The panel was opened by Scott Winks, Trapeze’s General Manager for Government Solutions, with a brief summary of MaaS. He spoke about how ride-sharing services have significantly disrupted the global travel market and changed what consumers expect from transport. However, this style of transport is becoming less and less satisfactory from a price, time, green and convenience perspective as it does not help reduce the strain on roads.

While the advent of autonomous vehicles and demand responsive services promise a partial solution, the transport ecosystem is becoming increasingly complex: it’s not just transport services that you have to consider, but also infrastructure, mobile technology and an abundance of data.

Since ultimately what today’s consumer wants is a simple, efficient, seamless and personalised journey, we need to find a way to reverse this complexity trend. MaaS is seen as the solution to this – the next big transportation disruption, if you will.

The first speaker was Juan Carbonell, Managing Director of RouteMatch Software (Australia/New Zealand) and former program manager for WestConnex in New South Wales. His talk focussed on how modern technology can be used to give customers true mobility and how MaaS was an opportunity for public transport operators and agencies to better understand their customers’ behaviour, which would eventually lead to better services at a lower cost.

Juan said there were five forces driving MaaS – expectations around on-demand services, inclusivity, personalisation, customer transformation and collaborative delivery. He then detailed his experience with delivering demand responsive transport (DRT) through attractor models, where the services are centred around an attraction like a shopping mall, and trunk-feeder models, where DRT vehicles deliver passengers to a trunk service such as a train station.

“MaaS is the intersection of regulation and authority.”

– Juan Carbonell –

He also told the audience about his involvement in a DRT implementation in York (Canada). He listed some key learnings from this project:

  • Create customer personas
  • Engage early with driver unions
  • Use local knowledge – do you need smaller vehicles, do you need a new way to charge to make the service attractive?
  • Design the experience: deliver modern conveniences, look and feel for a positive customer experience
  • Don’t be afraid to fail

Next was Paul Gwynn, Managing Director of INIT Asia Pacific, who proposed that MaaS is the end of a process that links together the ‘traditional’ elements of Planning, Operations, Dispatching, Ticketing and Real-Time Information to function effectively despite day-to-day disruptions that occur in any multimodal, multi-operator public transport environment.

ERP Software New Zealand Bus & Coach Association 2017 Annual ConferenceHe said we must present the consumer with a unified environment that is resilient and gives them options: the cheapest journey, the fastest journey, the best journey on a sunny day, the driest journey on a rainy day. Naturally, this is reliant on the consistency and availability of data in real time from all partners in the transportation network; if data becomes unavailable due to real-world disruptions or technical issues, the system is then compromised.

Thus, true integration that can handle operational disruptions, open data and open APIs are an important part of a MaaS future. Without this resilience of data and communication throughout the network, it cannot function. Paul emphasised that trust is a big part of consuming, and if commuters didn’t trust one partner in the system they were unlikely to embrace it.

Lastly, Damien Le Breton (Senior Manager, Incubation at the New Zealand Transport Agency) told us about where NZTA sees the future of transport: a mobility marketplace, or digital platform that connects customers with providers through the sharing of live, trustworthy information and integrated digital and physical transport infrastructure.

The outcomes that Damien said NZTA are looking to create great customer journeys: for them, MaaS is about more than just physical infrastructure. It’s about delivering a positive personal impact, experience and outcome for the customer. The passenger of today wants faster, easier and more personalised transport services, and the only way to deliver this is through a real-time data processing platform that connects the entire network.

Of special interest was Damien’s update on NZTA’s MaaS trial of this ‘mobility marketplace’ for tourists in Queenstown to help ease congestion. The app ‘Choice’, launched on 24 August 2017, acts like a ‘supermarket’ of transportation services. Visitors can select the experience they want, from the cheapest route to the most luxurious journey, to get from Queenstown airport to the town centre and from there to surrounding ski villages.

It will be interesting to see the learnings from Choice and how they can be applied to a residential population. While the rapid pace and evolving nature of technology and innovation makes it difficult to fully predict what the future will look like, it’s clear that providing efficient and effective public transport for our growing population will require us to embrace technology.

 

Conclusion

As always, the New Zealand Bus & Coach Association organised an extremely enjoyable conference with some brilliant social events like the Great Gatsby-themed dinner at Blue Baths and the Grease-themed finale evening.

It was a great opportunity to listen to speeches from key industry figures and catch up with current customers. Thanks to Karen Roberts from Cityline; Robyn and Keven Snelgrove from Tranzit Group; Darryl Bellamy from Go Bus; Sheryll Otway, Troy O'Dea, Craig Chin and Bill Rae from InMotion Group; and Red Bus’ Peter Hayward and Nic Aitken for setting aside time to catch up with us.

The conference also gave me the chance to form new relationships with other operators, whom I look forward to keeping in touch with. Here’s to the combined NZ BCA and Australian BIC conference in Cairns next year!

 

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