‘Government gets Ubered all the time’

NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, is a bit of a conference junky.

His latest outing was at Salesforce.com’s annual ‘Dreamforce’ conference in San Francisco, where he had some interesting things to say about the future of transport in his home state.

“Government gets Ubered all the time,” he said in his presentation. “Uber operated in NSW for two years in breach of our passenger transport app, so we reformed the entire point-to point-transport market – hire cars, buses, taxis, community transport, ride sharing.

“We have now laid a regulatory framework that will allow mobility-as-a-service into the future. Even the taxi industry is becoming innovative. By stripping out red tape, changing compliance, and using technology, we can make this change.”

The Dreamforce conference is the annual event for customers and partners of Salesforce.com, which has become the world’s largest cloud-based applications software company. The NSW Government is a major Salesforce.com user.

Mr Constance also spoke at the Salesforce World Tour event in Sydney in March. He said Transport for NSW is using the software to help revolutionise the transport system in NSW.

“We’re only just getting started. The reality is that transport is a technology business. The introduction of the Opal travel card gave us all sorts of rich data. Many in the transport department didn’t even know what questions to ask when we started to get this done.

“Customers want a number of things – they want a personalised service, they want on-demand services. They don’t want timetables.”

He said he wants to make Transport for NSW the number one jurisdiction in the world for technology and transport. “With the advent of mobility-as-a-service and the advent of autonomous vehicles, we have to make sure we are well advanced

“When we established our technology roadmap, we asked everybody in the department to contribute. It didn’t matter if it was a train guard, a bus driver, an executive within the agency. Everyone could input. To have cultural shift within the agency, everyone has got to shift with you.

“One of our key challenges is that our industry is full of engineers, not futurists. We’ve got to try and push that. Autonomous vehicles are going to change everything. We won’t have driver’s licences, we won’t have accidents. We are going to see an enormous change, and we have to make sure government is not behind.

“We’ve got a skills deficiency in transport, so we are relying on partnerships. It’s really important to engage with frontline staff on what technology can do for their lives.”

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