ITS (UK) Interest Group hears, “Fix information quality first”

September 06 2017

A group of the UK’s leading public transport experts are warning that traveller information must get much more reliable and available before Mobility as a Service (MaaS) can become a reality.

At a meeting of the ITS (UK) Public Transport Interest Group in London, the experts pointed out that only a quarter of bus companies have their timetable organised electronically, rather than on paper, making dynamic travel solutions almost impossible.

It was stressed that more complete real-time information is required from local authorities and transport operators to deliver the solutions. Not only that, but these data sources need to be standardised so that multiple information sources can be ingested into a single system.

The meeting, which also saw presentations about understanding passenger movements and the introduction of ITS into Scotland’s western isle ferries heard how a wide range of different traveller information apps are likely to be around for a while, as the sector implements technology ideas before a case of “survival of the fittest” leads to a shake-down to solutions based either on a better user experience or lower prices.

The experts, who included representatives from Innovate UK, Trapeze Group, University of Westminster, AECOM, Atkins Global, and Transport for London heard how local authorities have two choices during the development of MaaS solutions – wait for it to happen or influence it. The agreement was that authorities need not exercise full control or deliver services but at least define quality standards and rules on information sharing.

At the end of the meeting the group considered key recommendations to consider including more integration so that delivery is not in silos, especially as provision moves from public to private sector provision, the need to set performance and service metrics applicable to every provider and the importance of thinking of transport as part of the bigger picture.

Chairman of the Interest Group, Gary Umpleby of Hogia Transport Systems said, “I think this afternoon we have considered a plethora of gaps that need filling to enable us to achieve the ambitions that we all have for a highly-integrated transport system. If we can fill these gaps we will deliver the societal benefits we know can happen.”

ITS (UK) Secretary General Jennie Martin added, “ITS in public transport is going through an exciting period with new approaches such as MaaS and new attitudes to data ownership and reuse. Our Public Transport Interest Group is the focus for our work in this exciting area and we are grateful to Hogia and AECOM for the leadership they provide to the group.”

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