Innovation in Public Transport Networks
Baltimore-based Paul Comfort, Host of Transit Unplugged Podcast, was asked about innovations that could be brought to the UK at a recent webinar organised by Intelligent Transport and Trapeze Group. Working for years in the transport industry in America, Paul was ideally placed to bring a global respective to the session.
Integration is the Key
Paul Comfort stated, “transit systems are like apple seeds that fall from a tree and grow where they’re planted.” Expanding, he told the story of his experiences with the transit system in Baltimore. It is a multi-modal city: buses, light rail, subway, commuter trains, and commuter buses. Each system was built independently, had its own structure, and was siloed in its operations. They were the apple seeds that grew where they fell.
Paul was instrumental in creating a programme called Baltimore Link which linked all modes of transport, creating an interconnected transit system that improved service quality and reliability. Paul stated that integrating better, “changes the modus operandi from being a provider of all mobility to being the aggregator of all mobility services in a city… pulling [everything] together is key to making sure you have an integrated system that serves the customer first.”
Warwick Goodall stated that there is already a great integrated public transport system in London, but, “only a transport ecosystem that integrates public and private together is really delivering the full customer experience.”
To expand on this point, Paul Comfort offered Dubai as an example of successfully incorporating private transit into the public transport network. There, taxis are fully amalgamated into the transit system, used to take people from their front doors to metro stations where they then continue their journey into the city. By emulating Dubai, transport networks elsewhere could become the “aggregator of all mobility services in a city” and create a fully integrated system offering a first-class customer experience.
Help for Onward Journeys
According to Warwick Goodall, “we haven’t done enough to provide our staff with the information to help customers with their onward journeys.” Staff could be trained to deliver information to passengers for other services in the network. This would offer a next-level experience for passengers and increase the attractiveness of the bus as a method of transport.
Transit systems shouldn’t be the apple seeds that grow where they fall. They should be branches of the same tree that grow together into something connected and strong.
Cities like Baltimore and Dubai show that integration is the key to delivering public transport systems that are popular and effective. By creating a connected transit network, it’s possible to provide passengers with an elevated experience that will ultimately increase ridership.
To discuss integration further, please get in touch, and you can watch the entire webinar in the video below.
Bus to the Future: Imagining public transport in 2030 and beyond – and the changes needed now to ensure we get there
The Bus to the Future Webinar Panel
Clockwise from top left:
Leah Hockley, Editor of Intelligent Transport (Moderator)
Emma Gibson – CEO of London TravelWatch
Paul Attenborough – Programme Director at Trapeze Group
Warwick Goodall – Member of PA’s Management Group at PA Consulting
Paul Comfort – Host of Transit Unplugged Podcast
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