Mobility is changing. In everyday life, consumers want everything immediately and rely on high-speed communications to order goods and services and to access the most up-to-date information.
This equally applies to public transport passengers, who are now expecting a new suite of tools and services that will improve their journey experience, whatever mode of travel they choose to take. With the added consideration of environmental impact, and a resolve to help reduce individual and collective carbon output, public transport is once again centre stage.
Together, Siemens Mobility, HaCon, eos.uptrade and Bytemark have developed a unique and holistic collection of digital services and solutions that help to enhance the passenger experience. The companies’ combined services range from trip planning and passenger communication to mobile ticketing, electronic payment and comprehensive Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions. Systems are also available to support operators and infrastructure providers, including fleet management and train planning systems, as well as mobility data analytics.
The concept of MaaS, where a fully integrated multimodal transport system provides an attractive alternative to the individual use of private cars, will see customer experience driving the transport network.
Already, significant changes have been introduced in the UK, not only to provide greater choice for passengers when planning a journey, but also, and more importantly, to make that information available where they want it and when they need it. Travel options such as the fastest or cheapest route, the most environmentally friendly route and even routes that take into account the weather, are all choices the traveller can make by using intermodal mobility solutions. Siemens Mobility intelligently integrates the various transportation modes into a holistic ecosystem to effectively turn mobility entirely into a service.
With smartphones and apps no longer a luxury, but now an essential tool for people’s everyday lives, multimodal travel is increasingly making use of digital technology. Whether using their own car, a rental car, a bike, bus or train, passengers can plan their fully connected and optimised journey from their doorstep right through to their final destination. This includes having access to information that guides passengers to their reserved seat on a train (or to a carriage that has seats available), providing up-to-date information on transfers and booking tickets.
Elements of these approaches have been successfully deployed in major European cities, such as Copenhagen and Hanover, where a quick check on a phone can give passengers information about, not only the fastest route, but the cheapest alternative mode of transport, updated in real-time and tailored to that individuals’ needs.
The infrastructure in our road and rail networks is also becoming increasingly intelligent and is already delivering valuable information and data, for example warning of delays due to congestion or late running, that can be bundled in just one app. For travellers, this means far greater knowledge, comfort and convenience and the greatest possible flexibility. All the various means of transport are evolving into a holistic ecosystem.
With the advent of the Internet of Things, travellers can now securely connect devices and transportation modes that were separate in the past. Transport operators collect valuable data, can replace hardware digitally, and can save time and money for maintenance because the devices themselves flag when they need to be serviced, so costly routine maintenance visits don’t have to be carried out unless there is a need.
In the past, operators communicated unilaterally with their customers via individual apps, but systems are increasingly being developed that enable passengers to pass relevant information back to the service provider. For example, Siemens Mobility’s solutions already offer the possibility of activating the red ‘stop’ button in the bus on an app, as well as displaying the entire travel route, including transfers and secure connections, on a smartphone.
With solutions such as HAFAS (HaCon Fahrplan-Auskunfts-System, or HaCon travel plan information desk system), Siemens Mobility and HaCon are ensuring that millions of passengers and transportation operators are informed about their optimal journey, including connections and modes of travel. App contents are becoming increasingly detailed, because the transport modes themselves, and their network infrastructure, have more and more sensors which are capable of delivering more data in real-time.
These sensors also include ‘beacons’, the data from which can, among other things, deliver information on passenger flows. So, train operators can, for example, direct passengers to available seats, combining timetable information with capacity tracking data from each individual carriage. This is just one example of how integrating the growing volumes of data that is available from different service providers can provide real benefits to passengers and customers.
This ticket could also be part of an Account Based Service, combining the intermodal concept with Be-in/Be-out (or BiBo) ticketing that enables contactless recording of transport service use via an app on the user’s smartphone, with the user being billed exactly for the distance travelled.
Check-in/Check-out, Be-in/Be-out Under a Check-in/Check-out system, sometimes abbreviated to CiCo, travellers have to physically present a ticket or authority to board a vehicle and to exit. London Transport’s Oyster card is a good example – passengers have to tap in and out so that the price they are charged can be calculated.
If the station or vehicle gate can ‘read’ the travel authority while it is still in the passenger’s pocket, perhaps by interrogating a smartphone or other data tag, without the traveller having to do anything except walk through the gate, then that is Be-in/Be-out, otherwise known as BiBo.
Hybrid systems also exist, such as CiBo, which can be used where ticket prices are not dependant on distance so only checking tickets at entry is important.
Digitalisation provides a huge opportunity to drive change, with technologies that have the potential to radically change the way people think about transport.
Demand Responsive Transport (DRT), which covers the provision of trains, trams or buses in response to real-time passenger demand, is just one further example. Using a DRT solution from partners Padam, Siemens Mobility can help enable passengers from rural or badly serviced transport areas to travel to transport hubs, such as train stations and bus stations, for their onward travel. They can then be helped further by allowing them to speed through gates using AirGate, a ‘frictionless’ Bluetooth ticketing system, without having to present their smartphone to a gate or post.
There is a clear appetite in the UK to continue to drive changes that will enhance the passenger experience and, with digitalisation, Siemens Mobility is enabling operators worldwide to make their infrastructure more intelligent and to enhance the passenger experience. Within this, the company is increasingly focusing on its MaaS solutions, to not only enable the seamless integration of various transport modes, but also to make them as easy to use as possible, minimising any barriers that exist to easily switch between modes.
Alex Stewart is general manager, intermodal solutions for Siemens Mobility in the UK