Public transport’s greatest leap forward

Authorities across Australia are starting to sit up and take notice of on-demand public transport services as a way to evolve the public transport sector, writes KEVIN ORR.

With trials taking place around Australia at local and state level, including the launch of Australia’s first on-demand ferry service in Sydney, these updated services are bidding to make the Australian public transport infrastructure finally catch up to a world dominated by smart technology.

Most passengers who regularly use public bus services have experienced either overcrowded or nearly empty buses. To improve the existing bus and rail networks and ensure bus space is always utilised, on-demand has become the main focus for state transportation agencies across the globe. The services are renovating the way Australians travel and are a great leap forward for public services.

On-demand is ingrained in our culture

From entertainment to food delivery, in 2019 everything is on-demand. On-demand services are making it easier and more convenient for commuters to get around without having to rely on pre-scheduled timetables.

The essence of on-demand transport is that it is convenient and comes to you. It has taken our vulnerability for instant gratification to serve up transport exactly where and when we need it – no delays, no walking to the bus stop in the rain and no more squeezing yourself into a packed carriage. Simply tap a button or pre-book your ride, and receive real-time information on its arrival.

On-demand services are designed to provide an intuitive user experience with minimal steps to book a trip, offering a real-time connection between riders and drivers to ensure ease of communication, confirmation and completion of each trip.

Earlier this year, Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) undertook the world’s most comprehensive, coordinated multi-site trial spanning 24 metro and regional sites.

With such an expansive trial, TfNSW is able to identify key models, behaviours and motives to develop a greater transport experience for commuters and understand urban development and infrastructure needs. Shifting people’s behaviour is no small feat, and to do so, we must analyse the key attributes that encourage positive change.

Convenience comes first to transform the commuter experience

From dial-a-ride shuttle services, taxis and app-based pick up and drop off options, transport services at the tap of a button are making it easier and more convenient for commuters to get around.

As more elements of our lives become automated, on-demand or fueled by our reliance of instant gratification, it’s only logical that transportation services follow suit. On-demand buses paint a vision of the future that is streamlined, convenient, reliable and, perhaps most importantly, visible to the passenger.

Old-fashioned, fixed route services are not aligned with the way people live in 2019. We wouldn’t accept any other service where we’re paying such a high amount of money for often unreliable services, so why is that still the way we travel? There is a huge opportunity to incorporate on-demand public transport to reduce the cost of operation, improve patronage and reduce the plain old ‘bums on seats’ model.

Allowing the passenger to define the pickup and drop off location places the control firmly in their hands whilst simultaneously introducing potential friction for subsequent passengers and may have an effect on wait times.

Ultimately, it is a balance between degrading the passenger experience and managing fleet utilisation – too convenient, then a vehicle will be forever prioritising convenience over utilisation.

*Kevin Orr is the founder of Liftango

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One thought on “Public transport’s greatest leap forward

  1. This would be great if you have the public transport fleet to support such initiatives in the first place and secondly have the ability to move to all points of the compass with connectivity.
    I suspect that the definition of public transport here is maximising the use of motor vehicle transport over true public transport

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