Author: Ana Stanca
Demand Generation Leader, Enghouse Transportation
In an age of digital disruption, consumers are expecting more of the goods and services that they use and how they are delivered. Companies such as Amazon, Uber and Netflix have all helped to reshape customer expectations, creating an increasingly digitally connected and intelligent consumer base. Consumers want to be able to track their delivery in real-time, make instant easy payments with the tap of a card or phone, and access a ride as and when they want it.
While increased congestion and rising costs are making car ownership in cities less attractive, transit struggles to match the convenience and flexibility that personal transportation can provide. Addressing this flexibility gap will be key to growing passenger numbers as cities and regions look to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets.
Building Back Customer Numbers
The North American transit industry is often seen as a poor relation of its European counterparts. Industry has been slower to modernize its systems compared to other sectors, putting it at risk of falling further behind. Ridership remains at only 70% of pre-pandemic levels with continued remote working being cited as a key driver of these fallen numbers. As this trend is unlikely to be rolled back agencies need to adapt their services to meet changing practices, enabling more flexible and spontaneous travel.
Workforce issues have also added uncertainty to service delivery meaning that passengers can find themselves waiting for buses that fail to turn up, cancellations and re-routing; all of which create a perception of service unreliability.Critical to growing passenger numbers and changing perceptions of transit is increased flexibility. The key to future success could lie in the wider adoption of a Mobility-as-a-Service model (MaaS) which is being increasingly adopted across Europe.
MaaS and the Future of Flexible Integrated Transport
APTA define MaaS as “the integration of a full range of mobility options in one single digital mobility platform offering, with public transportation as the backbone”. What this means in practice is that passengers are able to use a single payment method for a variety of transport modes, moving from bus to train or light rail, as seamlessly as possible.
It can also be integrated with emerging transportation modes such as E-bikes and lift-sharing. MaaS enables spontaneous travel, making it easier for passengers to jump on a bus and then disembark as and when they wish.
Automated Fare Collection is a vital component of a MaaS system. It simplifies the payment process for passengers, freeing them from having to purchase tickets or travel cards. Fundamentally, this ease of payment is what consumers expect. A 2022 study of transit passengers in 14 countries found that 91% now expect the option of contactless payment.
AFC also reduces the waiting time when passengers board the bus, cutting down travel times and allowing bus travel to compete with other forms of transportation.
A Seamless Customer Experience
AFC is key to a seamless customer experience, helping to rebuild confidence in buses as a transport mode and enabling spontaneous travel.
We explore the three biggest challenges facing bus agencies and how AFC can help to address them in our whitepaper – The 3 Biggest Challenges Facing Bus Agencies & One Smart Solution.Download Whitepaper to find out more.
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