The past twelve months have posed more questions than ever for passenger transport. After a general decrease in ridership over the past decade, the disruption of COVID-19 could be a true tipping point for the industry. With the pandemic acting as a catalyst for change, we’re examining how the industry can re-invent itself, by looking back at the last transformative year and answering the big question of, “now what?”
We’ve analysed our mobility platform data, posed vital questions to industry experts and passengers, and highlighted significant developments and trends that are shaping this future vision of smarter cities.
In 2020, we saw the passenger transport industry completely pause. The severe impact on travel was felt across the globe, with average city road traffic levels decreasing by half in the first six months of 2020. Closer to home here in the UK, we saw public transport usage down to just 10% of ‘normal’ pre-pandemic levels.
There were some promising early signs of recovery as the lockdown rules relaxed in late Summer, with bus usage up 60% and train travel steadily rising to 40%.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, our customers in the bus industry have been encouraging passengers to use contactless payment forms, such as mobile ticketing as a safe payment option. We explored our data to understand the effect of lockdown on mobile ticketing.
Once restrictions were relaxed in September, mobile ticketing demand increased to nearly double the pre-pandemic average. This shows how behaviour change has incentivised smart travel as passengers move away from traditional methods and towards m-Ticketing.
Technological innovation played its part in aiding sector recovery in the wake of COVID-19. UrbanThings was part of this effort, winning £100k in government funding to develop a live vehicle occupancy prediction feature to provide passengers with peace of mind. Also key was increasing the availability of real-time passenger information. UrbanThings was active here too, working with Transport for London to introduce the driver app with accurate vehicle tracking, ensuring safe travel for NHS staff to and from the Nightingale hospital.
We saw significant developments across the industry in 2020 as the pandemic acted as a catalyst towards smart technology. The passing of the Buses Bill was a significant moment, allowing the public sector to start influencing how bus services are operated and, crucially, ensure their connection into the wide data ecosystem. Other key developments included Milton Keynes Council voting to abandon fixed buses and replace them with an ‘on demand’ service, and the DfT’s investment of £90m into ‘Future Transport Zones’ which could implement similar, MaaS-style modernisations elsewhere.
A shift in the availability of data also began: the UK bus open data system (BODS) launch means location and arrival time information with be provided nationwide, and live occupancy being extended on UK rail data systems too shows movement across the industry towards wide-scale smart technology use.
We predict how transport will evolve given the disruption of COVID-19 and the acceleration towards smart travel, and source expert viewpoints from across the industry.
UrbanThings has won a new contract from TravelMaster to create a dedicated passenger app for public transport users in South Yorkshire.
UrbanThings and Paragon ID Will exhibit at Euro Bus Expo 2022, the industry-leading event dedicated to bus and coach professionals.
Paragon ID, provider of digital identification solutions, has acquired UrbanThings, a leading UK supplier of digital transport solutions.
A partnership between UrbanThings and Littlepay will enable multi-operator and multi-modal contactless payments and capping.
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The UrbanThings team has launched the Rail+ Club, a powerful new loyalty App designed to encourage passengers back to rail.
UrbanThings has introduced a ‘smart recovery’ promotion in an effort to help transport providers return as the nation prepares for post-pandemic life.
UrbanThings have reported a 200% rise in bus mobile ticketing use in Q4 of 2020 compared to pre-pandemic averages in a new white paper.
UrbanThings have introduced a brand new trip reservations feature as part of the Ticketless passenger app and all-new Ticketless passenger website.
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