Five things we’ve learned about the transport industry in 2014

Transportation is experiencing a fresh cycle of innovation. The arrival of mobile technologies, the development of new modes of transport and passengers’ desire to improve their travel experience are strong drivers for this wave of change. Passenger Focus revealed in its January report that three train operators fail to offer a satisfactory service to over 20% of their customers, whilst Southern Trains has admitted that the firm receives up to 5000 complaints per day from disappointed passengers. With such high levels of dissatisfaction, it’s obvious why something had to give in the transport industry.

Organisations outside the traditional transportation ecosystem, including banks and IT companies, are also entering the market with more focus. It means that the sector is opening its doors to new partnerships, although public and civic considerations continue to be fundamental parts of key decision making. As a leading provider of digital solutions for transportation, those of us at Gemalto are a privileged witness of these developments, and here are some key points that caught our attention last year:

1: NFC EMV is a solid new proposition in transport ticketing

Transport for London’s evolution to pay at the gate transactions has brought a totally new experience to commuters, allowing users to pay for their travel through NFC EMV enabled bank cards, fobs and mobile phones as part of the new contactless system. Commuters no longer have to worry about buying tickets or topping up their travel pass, as long as they are equipped with a contactless banking card, and this has led to a sharp increase in the number of NFC mobile payments. It will also give TFL leverage to optimize their operational costs. The consumer response has been immediate, with over 40 million fares being paid with contactless cards on London public transport since it became available in September 2014, which has validated the appetite of banks and credit card companies in driving this innovation over recent years.

2: Incoming demand for international solutions

People are looking for more convenience in mass transit, especially when they travel abroad. Some of the largest Asian cities’ transport authorities have already expressed their wish for a solution which is able to combine ticketing applications from different countries into a single medium. This growing desire could soon be met, as a global secure solution is currently in development.

3: Intermodality and interoperability concerns

Transport remains a very fragmented market in terms of both infrastructure and technology. Lots of initiatives are taking us to a more unified environment, including Shift2Rail and Smart Ticketing Alliance, designed to improve interoperability between networks. Transit authorities are currently looking for pragmatic approaches, however delivery on this front will take time. Getting multiple cities and states converging onto a single technology is unlikely to happen; therefore the wisest choices are today made on scalable solutions like mobile NFC which can host several applications.

4: PTCs want to improve their image and to propose fancy services to their commuters

How much do you like your transport services? In an industry sometimes seen as antiquated, the transit agencies look for innovative services and products to help better satisfy travellers and energize their brand. Wi-Fi connections and wearables are a good example of incoming trends in mass transit, as PTC’s look to meet consumer demand and improve customer satisfaction.

5: There’s a growing usage of public transportation

Finally, the usage levels of public transport is constantly rising, which is good news for the planet. This is caused by several things: public transport is now a more economical choice, environmental issues matter to more people, and expansion of urban areas makes public transport infrastructure more viable and more useful. Legacy infrastructure may be a drag in capturing this potential, however. The digitization of ticketing represents a great way to better meet demand and drive efficiencies.

What is your view on these changes? What would be your wish list for the future?

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