Topic 3 Short-term, medium-term and long-term innovation impacts on the public transport system

One of the greatest impacts on innovation found in the public transport system is the introduction of information and communication technologies (ICT) in vehicles and traffic systems in cities, enhancing coordination between different modes of transport and optimising journeys, as well as obtaining information on user behaviour and habits.

  • Selection of the most efficient routes, through information and navigation systems.
  • Better user information on the different services offered by the public transport system.
  • Improved fare selection based on the user’s route.
  • Large volume of data to help improve traffic management and urban planning.
  • Increased road safety and reduced risk of accidents.
  • More efficient use of fuel, as well as knowledge of the level of electric load.

Also, it´s important to understand the relationship between innovation and change in transport policy reforms. It is about handing over operation and planning to a private operator and introducing private competition in the sector. In the British case, the policy of deregulating urban transport led to the creation of large public transport operators, introducing innovations such as the introduction of a network of minibuses that improved energy efficiency.

3.1 New Transport Systems:

Non-rail autonomous public transport vehicles have emerged over the last few years. The adoption of innovative vehicle technologies with the potential to significantly reduce emissions and energy intensity is regarded as one of the most powerful means, being placed high in the EU sustainable mobility agenda. Although these systems are technologically feasible, determining the extent to which they correspond to users’ needs and expectations remains a major issue.

In this framework, the evolution toward fully autonomous road vehicles is nowadays promoted as an innovative sustainable transport solution, mainly due to their ability to reduce road accidents that derive from human error on the part of the driver. Nonetheless, the first evidence collected from the experimental application of autonomous driving in real-life conditions indicates that autonomous cars are not yet able to navigate safely in complex urban environments. In terms of environmental sustainability, autonomous electric vehicles, emerge as a promising sustainable mobility solution, as their efficiency in terms of air pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption is expected to be significantly higher than motorized vehicles of conventional technology under specific conditions.

In the implantation of autonomous electric vehicles, it´s necessary appropriate policy interventions on the road network infrastructure, such as choosing a plug-in or wireless charging infrastructure. Such issues need to be addressed taking into account different sustainability criteria, primarily aiming at the enhancement of travel safety for all road users while ensuring the safety and public health of all residents, in terms of exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

  • Dynamic or stationary charging services?
  • Road segments of mixed traffic flow, where autonomous vehicles share the roadway space with conventional vehicles or dedicated traffic lanes?
  • Impose rules such as the prohibition of standing when the vehicle is in motion.
  • Provision of preventive equipment such as seat belts, child safety seats, video surveillance or a means of dealing with emergencies.
  • Information displays and easy and unobstructed access to the vehicle to compensate for the absence of a driver.
  • The display of information on autonomous operation, vehicle appearance, climate control, cleanliness, prevention of vehicle overloading, access to the vehicle with a bicycle or a dog, and some features of the stop.
  • Analyse in more detail the needs, expectations and concerns of older people and people with disabilities.

3.2 Mobility as a service: Maas

The digital revolution has an increasingly evident impact on the way people move and use media. The smartphone (mobile device) and the development of connectivity have profoundly affected the ability to access information “everywhere” and in “real time”. The MaaS system allows the search for the solutions that best meet the travel needs of users, through a platform of integrated services that allows planning, booking and payment, as well as providing useful information during the trip (UITP, 2019). The MaaS is an intelligent mobility distribution model in which users’ major transport needs are met  via a single platform and are offered by a service provider. The concept of mobility as a succession of different forms of transport is left behind by the MaaS (Mobility as a Service) challenge and the conception of a global mobility service. There have never been as many forms of transport to get around as there are today. Mobility as a Service consists of placing the user at the centre of all transport-related services, with booking, e-ticketing and payment services on a single digital platform, with the idea of facilitating combined journeys, optimising routes, times and costs.


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MaaS aims to bridge the gap between public and private transport operators at national and EU level, and foresees the integration of the currently fragmented tools and services that a traveller needs to make a journey (planning, booking, access to real time information, payment and ticketing) from A to B. The Maas system is one of the main future solutions to improve the quality of life in cities. To implement such a service, the coordination of different stakeholders, such as transport authorities, mobility service providers and public transport operators, is essential. The MaaS project results showed that the MaaS systems lacks in depth knowledge of policy frameworks, technological approaches for integration, approaches for optimal involvement of end-user and overall  involvement of all relevant stakeholders (providers of the different transport services).
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Graphic source: Kamargianni, M, Matyas, M, Li, W, Muscat, J, Yfantis, L. 2018. The MaaS Dictionary, MaaSLab. Energy Institute, University College London

In the State of the Art report carried out in the EU project MaaS4EU under the H2020 on September 2018, 18 relevant initiatives with at least two different modalities were identified, 94% implemented in Europe. The most widespread application is still TransitApp with presence in 269 cities but does not provide integrated booking and payment. Most of the initiatives rest on the pay-per-use tariff model.  The Whim application is still the only one that provides both the option for a pay per use and a monthly plan.

There are pioneering cities in MaaS, such as Helsinki, London and recently Madrid, where this initiative has been launched. Among them, Helsinki represents a revolution in mobility, since through MaaS Global, the first MaaS operator in the world, they have created an application called Whim, which aims to offer all urban transport services in a single step with which the user can create their own multimodal journey.

With the implementation of the MaaS system, the aim is to reduce the number of cars on the road and the integrated coexistence of all available means of transport within the reach of each user’s particular needs.

Graphic creation source: UPV

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