Significant shifts in preferences and technology have transformed the way that travellers experience their journeys and make choices among transport options available. For example, the near-universal use of smartphones means that newspapers no longer clutter bus and train seats and travellers can use their travel time more productively than in the past.
In this environment, public transport operators seeking to entice travellers from their cars need to offer a compelling package that addresses desires for reliability and convenience. This can include such elements as ensuring good internet connectivity, providing integrated ticketing across modes. This imperative means that providers cannot think in silos of bus versus subway, but instead in terms of end-to-end journeys. The panel discussed the French railway’s efforts in this direction where partnerships have been formed with taxis, bike share, local public transport and even new mobility technology companies. In Korea the move towards service, fare and ticketing integration contributed to a turnaround in Seoul’s public transport ridership.
If the public transport service offering can be improved in these ways, travellers (especially younger urban demographics) are prepared to take it up allowing them to live with low levels of car ownership and still maintain their mobility and connectivity. More broadly, the improvements to public transport services and their uptake can have wider economic benefits, including improved health and more productive and dense urban areas.
Policy makers putting the case for investment in public transport need to have clear evidence of the type and scale of the benefits that will be gained. While transport planners have long argued that cities with strong public transport are associated with less sprawl, higher productivity, greater environmental sustainability and better social outcomes, it is only in recent decades that such benefits have been properly incorporated in economic appraisal practices. These objective techniques are essential to supplement our somewhat limited abilities to weigh up complicated trade-offs based on “gut instinct” alone.
Director, City of Stockholm Traffic Administration
Director Strategic Planning Projects, Munich Transport Corporation (MVG)
President, Korea Transport Institute (KOTI)
Director of door to door program, SNCF
Moderator, Broadcaster, Journalist and Businesswoman