As technology advances, so do our transport options and the expectations of our customers. What is changing most dramatically is not just the technology itself, but how people use it. Customer expectations of personalised and responsive services will drive disruption and change how the NSW transport system works.
It is uncertain how these technologies may evolve and impact on how people, goods and services move. So, an agile response is needed to accommodate a range of potential futures.
Business as usual approaches to planning transport could miss important opportunities to reshape future travel behaviours, better connect regional areas, dramatically improve safety outcomes, or reduce the future costs of construction. Right now we have an opportunity to harness technology for the best outcomes for everyone.
There are five strategies we have adopted aimed at shaping the most customer-centric, innovative, digitally-enabled transportation system in Australia.
As committed to in the 2016 Future Technology Roadmap, we have commenced adopting new world-class technologies to:
- Personalise customer interactions
Develop and connect real-time digital journey planning, payment and engagement platforms so they are simpler to understand, easier to use and can give personalised service relevant to individual needs and preferences
- Transform mass transit
Increase automation and apply new technologies to mass transit networks like our railway, metro and light rail services to improve efficiency, deliver better service frequency and reduce transit times, increasing the attractiveness of the services they offer customers.
- Foster demand-responsive services
Allow for the development of new technology-enabled service offerings so customers can access a greater variety of mobility options that match their needs.
- Enable driverless vehicles
Pursue national standards for the road infrastructure, systems, safety and regulatory frameworks needed to adopt greater levels of driverless vehicles earlier, and identify how best to deliver community benefits that autonomous vehicles will bring.
- Create intelligent transport networks managed with data
Invest in smart infrastructure and collect and use the data generated to enable increasingly efficient, flexible and dynamic service delivery with improved safety, availability, reliability and responsiveness.
The future of mobility in NSW is customer-focused, networked, data-enabled, and dynamic. Personal mobility packages will bundle traditional ‘modes’ like taxi and public transport with technology platforms and new service offerings like carshare, bikeshare, rideshare and smart parking, similar to the way that mobile phone packages work today. This will improve the customer experience and deliver far greater levels of responsiveness, safety and help reduce congestion. It may also save you money, offering you the mobility you need without having to own a car.
Smartphones are tomorrow’s ticket booth, with a host of services at our fingertips for each part of our journey. Customers will make travel choices based on factors that matter most to them – frequency, sustainability, comfort, travel time and cost.
Technology platforms will make customers’ journey planning simple, offer convenient payment methods such as subscription services, and enable direct communication with service providers. Instead of paying for individual trips we may see subscriptions services arise, similar to Netflix for movies or Spotify for music.
Today, transport is a technology business. Improving the services available to all our customers and supporting productive, liveable and sustainable places will require integration of technology and innovation into the transport system. This means that Government will play an important role enabling innovation on the network, while it continues to regulate for safety and the public interest. We have already seen this working in practice, through the Point to Point Transport Act 2016, which is designed to allow for a more transparent, competitive and flexible point to point transport industry. In the future, we will need to ensure our rules are fit for purpose, to enable connected and automated vehicles for example, and to allow new service providers on our road and rail networks.
Ensuring that innovation benefits all our communities is a priority. Regional customers will also be able to access innovative on-demand services that aggregate similar trips quickly and provide responsive travel choices, with a range of public, private, and community transport providers offering a mix of services. Investments to improve information management across our transport services will enable real-time and innovative regional service responses that better use infrastructure and assets. A recent initiative trialling a weekly return flexible bus service running between Tottenham and Dubbo, a 145 km each way trip, is one example of more responsive regional services.
In August this year, Transport for NSW commenced trials with automated buses in Sydney. Sydney will also have its first driverless trains operating by 2019.
As automation increases, one option for the future is that timetabled services become a thing of the past. Instead you will be able to let a transport provider know you wish to make a journey, then an automated car or bus will arrive to take you to a fast transit location with services that come every few minutes, with a range of options at the end of your bus, train or light rail journey to take you to your destination, that could include cycling or walking.
Automated vehicles will give more people access to road travel, for example, people with a vision impairment, a disability or who are too young to get a licence currently. To avoid a future where the ‘car is king’, we will need to encourage the use of automated vehicles as part of shared service models, for example, a shared car pool or car-sharing service, and provide priority to more sustainable modes, like mass transit, walking and cycling, in centres. This approach could reduce congestion and extend the reach of the overall public transport system.
Automated vehicle can also help to reduce congestion because they occupy less road space because they can travel closer together.