A look ahead: 2017 transportation technology trends
By Scott Reiser, Co-founder and CTO of Passio Technologies
It’s not enough to merely say technology will be the next big trend to hit the parking and transportation industries.
Rather, much of the talk at industry trade shows over the past year focused on how systems large and small will use technology in the year ahead to further improve the rider experience. As ridership on systems nationwide continued to increase in 2016, many systems are having to do more with less.
If all the talk is right, 2017 will be an exciting year. Here are a few of the trends the industry is likely to see over the next 12-18 months.
Cross-Modal Mobile Apps
Just about everyone has a mobile device these days, and both long-tenured and newly minted transit systems are continuing to roll out apps. These apps are not just providing service updates (such schedule and real-time updates), they are increasingly allowing for multi-modal commuting/traveling across systems using a single app. In larger cities with more than one public transportation agency, riders no longer have to download multiple apps; they can manage their trips from a single dashboard.
Ride-sharing services have been all the rage for a few years, and in many cities, they’ve overtaken taxis as a primary mode of transportation. Now, those apps are starting to integrate with public transit systems, allowing commuters a seamless user experience for their entire journey, no matter the mode. When employed, a transit rider can schedule a ride-sharing option to arrive for a pickup as his or her bus or train pulls into the station.
Wi-Fi and in-transit video have been around for several years, but it’s now more reliable and more affordable for systems of all sizes. While riders say these amenities add to their overall experience, systems would be remiss if they did not look at how these services can be enhanced with advertising to create additional revenue streams to help defray operating costs; in an era of tight budgets, this could be a huge asset.
Providing riders with real-time service alerts is the baseline today. From pre- and post-trip inspections to counting passengers to automating schedule and dispatch, more systems are launching a single integrated solution that gives unprecedented insights into operations. That means no more paper service logs or manual passenger counts. The obvious benefit to digital is that it reduces the likelihood of human error and increases employee efficiency, often equating to cost savings.
Further Targeting of Millennials
Millennials are driving the increase in public transit ridership. The good news is that many millennials are familiar with public transportation from riding the bus at their college campuses. Municipal systems need to continue to embrace this segment of the population, which they can do by employing the same technology and accommodations to attract younger riders to public transportation once they enter the workforce.
Predicting the future can at times be tricky. But, in the case of these trends, it will be interesting to see how these predictions play out in the months ahead. We know they will help make 2017 the best year yet for transit.