Expert Panel: passenger experience
In conclusion to our Passenger Experience In-Depth Focus supplement, we asked a number of industry experts: what steps should operators take to ensure they pass the benefits of technology adoption on to end users?
Kate Hutchinson: By simply adopting technology, end users will see immediate benefits. With multiple purchasing channels now opening up to them, it will be almost impossible to get stuck without the means to buy a ticket.
Flexibility that suits the individual drives the choice of transport mode; people are unlikely to travel if there is uncertainty or they feel bound by restriction. From timetabling to live route information and available seats, technology opens this up to both the operator and their passengers by default.
With more integrated ticketing options, any new technology that’s worth investing in should deliver seamless, multimodal transport across a city. On top of this, transparency and fare accuracy build trust. Giving the user control over purchasing methods and payment types puts them in charge of how much they are paying, what they are paying for and when. From travel passes to individual tickets, technology gives passengers the information they need before they make their choices.
It would be difficult to embrace new tech and not pass on these benefits. Operators must advertise these and spread the good word, encouraging people to choose public transport more frequently over other options for a sustainable future.
Adam Rideout: I think it’s important to engage with new and existing customers in matters of new technology in transport. We do this every day in our travelshops but wanted to try something slightly different.
When Google opened a pop-up Digital Garage in Birmingham, National Express Bus booked a few sessions at the workshop, inviting customers from different demographics to a place they could physically go to find out how to use some of the new technologies that we’d introduced, like m-tickets and contactless. These are things that seem straightforward enough, but in practice customers aren’t always comfortable with. It’s easy to lose sight of how complex it can appear to customers and be swept away with the idea that everyone is on board with the digital revolution that is taking place.
Engaging face to face with our customers in this way helped us to understand some of the common challenges they’re faced with.
Ian Wright: Operators firstly have to realise that technology is only a tool; it can be used well or it can be used badly, and they must take
responsibility to ensure it is used in the right way. The industry is going through a period of change and it’s crucial that people do not get left behind or feel excluded by that change. Some people can’t – or simply don’t want to – operate in a purely digital world, so there has to be a transitional period. Technology in transport is becoming more mass market, but the people who are perhaps lagging behind shouldn’t be penalised for it.
Business Models, Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), Journey Planning, Mobility Services, Passenger Accessibility, Passenger Experience, Travel & Passenger Information, Vehicle & Passenger Safety
Issue 3 2019