Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Digital trends in public transportation

June 18, 2015

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A BART subway car. Image courtesy of Maurits90/Creative Commons wikipedia

Transport agencies and operators are fundamentally changing the way they look at themselves by tapping into a broad array of other digital businesses, digital customers, and even digital ‘things’ at the edge of their networks, according to Accenture’s new Technology Vision 2015 report.

In discussing digital trends, the report identifies forces driving the shift to what it calls the “We Economy.”

With trends like the Internet of Things and leading organizations digitizing every employee, process, product and service, it means transport agencies and operators have access to a rich, interconnected ecosystem comprised of third-parties, partner agencies, and vendors working to provide services in unprecedented ways.

This can help drive ridership and reduce congestion while creating new opportunities for funding, said the report. “It also means more empowerment of the transport workforce with tools that drive down the cost of running operations while improving outcomes and safety.”

The Internet of Me is about shifting operator mindsets from a mover of vehicles to a provider of customer experiences. Accenture surveyed more than 2,000 IT and business executives. It found 81 percent say providing a personalized customer experience is among their top three organizational priorities.

Chart courtesy of Accenture
Chart courtesy of Accenture

Here are some ways that transit trends are being identified.

Platform (R)evolution provides travelers with platform-based ecosystems such as city maps, attractions, bike sharing, car-hailing, and other services. Of those surveyed, 74 percent are using or experimenting with industry platforms to integrate data with digital business partners.

Intelligent Enterprise integrates transportation networks to allow for seamless transfer across transport modes – such as from a subway to a local bus – without long waits. Eighty percent of those surveyed say applications and tools will take on a more human-like intelligence.

Workforce Reimagined helps drive better asset management practices. For instance, transport workers are using tablets in the field to access sensor data in real-time and electronically capture maintenance information.

In the Outcome Economy, there will be more collaboration with third parties to offer the data required to improve the travel experience. These include what’s known as “the last mile,” providing travelers with  bike sharing information in real-time.

Travelers of today expect advanced interactions through technology that put them at the center of every digital experience, said the report. “Operators must shift their mindset from a mover of vehicles to a provider of customer experiences.”

STORY IDEAS

For story ideas, check with local transportation agencies to see how many of these digital trends they are already following or may introduce in the future.

American Public Transportation Association

Lists of rapid transit systems

Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database

Transportation for America

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