Intelligent Transport’s top five lessons from InnoTrans 2018

InnoTrans is over for another two years, but this year’s edition of the enormous transport trade fair again provided an excellent window into the technology that is changing the transport industry. Here, Intelligent Transport recaps a fascinating event and highlights its top five lessons.

1. A sustainable future is essential


Sustainability was one of the key themes of this year’s InnoTrans. From the vehicles to the services being offered upon them, manufacturers and operators alike are investing in developing transport solutions that are sustainable both in terms of environmental factors and in business terms.

2. Innovation is rife


InnoTrans yet again proved that technological advancement is at the forefront of the rail and public transport industries. As the world’s transport networks continue to evolve, and their importance in building smarter cities becomes ever more evident, the industry’s development cycle is becoming tighter to keep up with demand. At the heart of this is the industry’s desire to digitalise as many of its services as possible, from keeping up to date with bus arrivals to fully-fledged MaaS implementations. Digitalisation is the tool that will enable the on-demand, multimodal future, and the progress being made is quite staggering.

3. Passenger experience is king


From entire new vehicles to arm rests and seats, 2018’s InnoTrans exhibitors showed that the passenger experience is still one of the top concerns for transport operators around the world. Travellers increasingly expect the same quality of life and comfort that they would experience in their own homes wherever they are, and especially on transport. The interiors, infotainment services, network technology and accessibility solutions on display at InnoTrans was a demonstration that the transport industry is meeting the challenge in improving passenger experience, while showing that innovation cannot stand still regardless of progress.

4. Multimodality is key to the future of transport

In her welcome address to the gathered delegates in Messe Berlin’s Palais am Funkturm, European Commissioner for Transport reinforced the message that 2018 is the year of multimodality – and the days that followed only served to emphasise that point. Multimodality is the only way to fulfill the first- and last-mile transport needs of passengers across the world’s urban transit networks, whether that’s bike-to-train-to bike or any other combination of modes. The fact of the matter is that transport is becoming gradually more attractive to investors, enabling more modes of personal transport, like electric bikes or scooters, available for public use throughout our cities. Links to stations, and from there, rail links to city hubs, can only improve in the next few years.

5. Mass rapid transit must remain the backbone of future mobility

For all the industry’s talk of technologies like flying taxis and hyperloop, traditional mass rapid transit remains one of the most potent weapons in a city’s arsenal for reducing congestion, improving air quality and increasing mobility. The electrification of mass transit and the introduction of alternative fuels is making cities greener, but has a potential knock-on effect on availability; combining this trend with a drive to get cars off the roads, it will be interesting to see how the capacity of transport networks in the world’s cities holds up.