Smart public transport – key to solving the urban challenge
The share of Nordic inhabitants living in urban areas is growing by the day with increasing challenges for transportation systems. A new report by Telia Company and Arthur D. Little shows that there is a risk that e.g. Sweden might only reach half of its goal of doubling the share of public transportation by 2020. At the same time, there is a range of smart public transport solutions available to mitigate the problem.
Urbanization is a global megatrend and the Nordics is no exception. The share of urban inhabitants increased from 25 percent in 2005 to almost 35 percent in 2015 with increased pressure on the public transportation system consequently. The average commuting time in Stockholm increased by 20 percent between 1995 and 2013.
Meanwhile, there are ambitious goals. Copenhagen set the target of having 75 percent of all trips in 2025 by public transport, bike or foot and Sweden aims to double public transport trips between 2006 and 2020. However, there are challenges and the new report shows that Sweden is expected to only reach halfway unless public transportation systems become smarter.
“We're one of the world’s most connected and digitalized regions, yet we’re at risk of falling behind in this field. We need to ensure that the public transportation systems of tomorrow become smarter if we are to solve one of the most acute urbanization challenges,” says Martin Glaumann, Partner, Arthur D. Little.
Intelligent Transportation Systems
Part of the solution is to move from today’s standalone connected vehicles to so-called Intelligent Transportation System, ITS. ITS is characterized by the integration of multiple modes of transportation along with physical and digital infrastructure making public transport more passenger centric, autonomous and integrated.
This means e.g. that passengers will be able to travel on the same ticket or subscription, whether they travel by bus, bike or taxi. Soon, expect self-driving vehicles are expected to become a reality in everyday public transport. Already today, subway trains in Copenhagen are fully autonomous, and in the spring of 2017, the Nordic bus operator Nobina performed a successful pilot with self-driving buses in Kista, Stockholm.
With ITS, the share of public transport will increase and unlock not only economic and social but also important environmental benefits. Substituting single-vehicle use with buses, bikes or trains will lead to lower CO2 emissions, less congestion and lower noise levels. For example, if public transport's share of total transportation was to increase by 10 percent, it could result in a reduction of CO2 emissions of up to 19 percent.
However, in order for all of this to take off and scale at full range, the whole ecosystem needs to evolve.
“A digitized eco system for public transportation is at the core of our future society. Unlocking the full potential, requires Nordic players to rethink their positions in a new ecosystem, built on open platforms, leveraging scalable and reliable technology together,” says Johan Öberg, Head of Marketing och Partner management, Telia IoT.
For authorities this implies a need to ensure that innovation and growth is rewarded and by finding models that ensure open data and platforms. For transport operators, finding ways to create sustainable business models through openness will be key. ICT companies will play a central role in creating open digital platforms where new services can be added easily, bridging the gap between the players of today and tomorrow. For authorities and transport operators, choosing the right ICT partner will ensure that they can make the transition to new market conditions.
As a more open ecosystem emerges, public transport becomes more accessible to disruption and innovations that increases efficiency and benefits passengers. No one knows exactly how public transport will change, but change will come.