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The road to a seamless public transport system

6 Mins.

Increasing urbanization and greater competition for road space from e-commerce and food delivery companies are placing significant strain on urban routes. COVID-19 has also resulted in a dramatic drop in passenger numbers as people have opted to alter their commute or work from home. As we emerge from the pandemic, mobility-as-a-service offers a new and flexible approach to current public transport systems, allowing users to fluidly switch between the best modes of travel to reach their destination.


Around 4 billion people currently live in urban areas. However, by 2050, according to the World Bank, the world’s urban population will more than double.1 Current self-contained transport systems, which are already under pressure, simply wouldn’t be able to cope with these kinds of numbers. Delays, congestion, and overcrowding would reach an unprecedented scale; our cities would effectively grind to a halt.

But a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) approach that combines public transport systems into one seamless solution could deliver a different future – one that makes switching between different forms of transport simple and intuitive.

This approach would allow people to plan and pay for their entire journey, across any mode of transportation, through their smartphone. Once on the move, the app should be able to tap into real-time information and suggest changes to their route to get them from A to B as quickly as possible. Options to select the cheapest or most sustainable route may also feature. And lastly, this app will learn their travel patterns and suggest personalized route information.

Easy identification

Secure mobile ticketing and digital identification are key elements of MaaS solutions. They protect the identity and personal data of users across a wide range of mobility apps, allowing them to easily create an account, add payment methods, and access whatever transportation mode they need to complete their journey.

G+D’s solutions enable transport authorities to easily create, issue, and manage the secure digital identities assigned to the virtual travel cards linked to a mobile device. “As well as authenticating customers before they rent a car, e-scooter, or bike, remote identification of this kind also cuts out queues and other time-consuming requirements,” says Ferdinand Burianek, Head of Domains Public Sector, Transit & Enterprise at G+D.

Mobile ticketing is a key way to make urban mobility solutions more seamless

“And once someone has completed the digital registration process for a mobility app in one city, links to national ID verification systems mean they can hop on a bike, bus, or train in another city without having to go through the process again.”

These seamless urban mobility experiences are particularly valued by millennials, who will soon be the largest cohort of public transport users. In total, 75% of them in the United States have installed travel apps on their smartphone, compared with 47% from other generations.2 It is therefore imperative that transport authorities cater to their needs, and support the shift from cash and cards to mobile devices.

“Transport authorities can more easily address issues, schedule maintenance, and deliver highly personalized customer experiences across the transport network“
Ferdinand Burianek
Head of Domains Public Sector, Transit & Enterprise at G+D

Connected urban mobility

As infrastructure becomes increasingly connected, SIM cards, also referred to as eSIMs or embedded SIMs – which are found in everything from bikes to escalators to traffic lights – are the prerequisite for transport authorities to leverage the potential of 5G. “Once everything is digitalized in this way, transport authorities can more easily address issues, schedule maintenance, and deliver highly personalized customer experiences across the transport network – a trend that will only increase after the widespread rollout of 5G technologies,” says Burianek.

For example, cities can also unlock valuable insights into travel patterns and other commuter behaviors across the transport network by aggregating and analyzing information from the millions of journeys people make each day. This enables transportation providers to establish, in real time, precisely how many people are using the transport network and ensure enough trains, trams, buses, and staff are available to serve their needs.

Disruptions to the network can also be managed more efficiently, with commuters quickly rerouted to alternative modes of transportation via updates to their mobile devices.

In addition, rush-hour peaks can be identified with pinpoint accuracy rather than estimated, enabling transport authorities to introduce more effective off-peak pricing schemes. Insights from big data can also be used to determine where best to place infrastructure such as bike and e-scooter hubs, as well as how many bikes and scooters are needed at each one.

G+D’s IoT solutions help to secure the data that flows between connected devices and the transport authority’s cloud platform. Such solutions are essential for protecting vital infrastructure and data from hackers.

The benefits of these secure, smart transport networks are already evident. Intelligent traffic systems, which help minimize wait times by sensing traffic and communicating with one another, have reduced commuting times in Buenos Aires by as much as 20%, and by 15% in San Jose and Houston.3 Meanwhile, smart parking, which connects vehicles and infrastructure to inform users where parking is available, has reduced parking search times by about five minutes on average in San Francisco and Johannesburg.4

Eventually, travelers may even be able to make journeys without physically paying for a ticket, thanks to beacon technology, which would charge them automatically. But regardless of how payment is made, the majority of these journeys will continue to be made on public transport, the backbone of any MaaS system. That means effective co-operation between the public and private sectors is essential for MaaS and seamless travel to really take off.

In the end, as an analysis by McKinsey suggests, “seamless mobility is only achievable if cities tap into the private sector’s capabilities, business models, innovations, and technologies.”4 Every city will, of course, have different needs and historical quirks that these partnerships will need to take into account. But by working together on a system-wide approach to urban mobility, the public and private sector should be able to make MaaS the transport system of the future.

  1. World Bank, “Urban Development,” 2020

  2. Boston Consulting Group, “Traveling with Millennials,” 2013

  3. Dynamo, “Traffic Management Explained,” 2020

  4. McKinsey, “The Road to Seamless Urban Mobility,” 2019

Published: 29/09/2020

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