Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  17 Jul 2014

INFOTECH: Integrated Real-time Information – An Enabler Of Enhanced Public Transport Service Delivery


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The usability and reliability of public transport is key to its effectiveness, and in driving more widespread adoption of public transport services. This requires visibility, which in turn requires real-time information across the entire public transport value chain. However, gaining this visibility is typically challenging in an environment that is heavily siloed between different transport methods and different providers. For example, in many suburbs and particularly in rural areas, there is no information available with regard to travel times, such as when the next bus or train will be available. Finding information about scheduled journeys, and whether or not these are taking place, is also difficult.

While effort is being made in individual areas to provide higher levels of visibility, each area and province, controlled by different municipalities, is operating in isolation. Multiple service providers, all using different systems, make the integration of different interfaces challenging, which can have a negative impact on the overall user experience.

For example, the Gautrain uses a card system for travel, but many buses and trains use cash and each require their own ticket. This means that multiple tickets need to be purchased for a journey that involves different modes of transport. This challenge is made more complex when travellers cross different price zones, such as across provinces, as without an integrated real-time view, passengers may have to purchase several different transport tickets in different areas, rather than a single ticket at the point of departure which is valid for the entire journey.

This siloed approach prevents information from being shared and collated, something which is essential for effective transport service delivery. Streamlining individual segments is a step in the right direction, however, in order to ensure maximum convenience for citizens it is vital to examine the overall public transport experience.

Delivering an effective public transport system requires a solution that addresses the user experience, making public transport a convenient, reliable alternative. Having brilliant, innovative technology will not in itself solve the problem – this requires an understanding of data and how the various transport sectors interact. Information plays a pivotal role in creating effectiveness and efficiency from a customer perspective.

Creating a seamless, transparent experience across different areas, provinces and tariff zones, and even different methods of transport such as trains and buses, requires that information and technology be integrated into an innovative holistic solution. An e-ticketing solution implemented across the country and across different modes of transport not only simplifies travel for passengers, it also provides opportunities for discounted services based on frequent usage or commercialization services that add value to passengers. Such solutions can also help transport operators to better understand their business and contribute to better planning. By sharing information, business processes and operating procedures can be optimised, tariffs can be streamlined, and the user experience can be improved, which in turn helps to improve revenue and attract more customers.

Having a solution that integrates the different service provider systems is key to creating the visibility necessary for a seamless user experience. T-Systems have proven this concept with the Ticket4All solution implemented in Austria. Ticket4All acts as aggregator that integrates into many service provider systems, delivering a seamless, integrated ticketing experience for passengers regardless of where and how they travel. For example, a passenger can use an intuitive web portal to book and pay for their journey across the country on multiple transport methods across multiple providers, and get the best price for their journey, simplifying the entire experience.

Integrated solutions improve service delivery through an improved user experience. However, such a solution needs to be driven by all stakeholders, from transport providers to Government, as well as solution providers, if it is to be successful in South Africa. For the passenger to benefit, all service providers and Government need to align their operations and work together. This in turn will provide greater visibility around operations, which assists with more effective planning and service delivery.

The ultimate goal is to deliver efficient, effective services that meet the needs of the citizens of South Africa. This concept of zero distance, closing the gap between the various stakeholders such as service provider, government and passengers, is key to improving service delivery.

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