Topics: Digital Transformation; Data Analytics; NSW.
On-demand public transport, autonomous vehicles, and Opal taxi payments will play a part in the not-so-distant future envisioned by New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance.
Announcing the new Future Transport Roadmap on Wednesday 2 November, Constance called on industry and tech leaders to submit Expressions of Interest to trial “on demand” public transport.
“I want to see the end of timetables, and a network that can cut down on travel delays by automatically putting on extra trains in wet weather or extra buses from a footy team’s home suburbs to away games.
“We have Netflix, Stan, and Foxtel to give us movies on demand – so why can’t we have our public transport respond to where people are and what they want?” said Constance in a press release.
Constance is open to bus services that deviate from their usual routes – potentially travelling along suburban routes – as a way to respond to fluctuating demand.
To create a timetable system that responds to customer needs, creators will need access to real-time travel, weather and event data. Some travel data is already available through the Open Data Hub, including de-personalised “selected Opal travel pattern data” and real-time train, bus, ferry and light rail information.
The minister would like to see the “best minds” in industry and research to engage with the project – “they know better than the government does, and I don’t want to restrict their imagination”. Transport for NSW (TfNSW) will release an Expression of Interest next month, with pilot programs expected to be underway by the end of 2017.
Daily, dynamic public transport timetabling is one of many initiatives listed in the Future Transport Roadmap.
Other key initiatives include extending Opal’s functionality so travellers pay for all transport through the platform. The state-wide payment platform may even extend to taxi and road toll payments.
The NSW Government will also set up a regulatory environment to support automated vehicles, and run a closed-system pilot of the technology.
The roadmap identifies data analytics as fundamental to relieving traffic congestion (one of the principal goals of the Future Transport program), and work is already underway to better integrate datasets and enhance analytic capabilities.
Through the Intelligent Congestion Management Program (ICMP), the state’s congestion management system will become multimodal so that transport operators can coordinate a response to traffic incidents across the entire network. Currently, stakeholders involved in traffic incidents can communicate with service providers, but usually only to a single mode of transport at the one time. The ICMP will integrate management of service interruptions across all modes of transport, so that all parties involved can communicate simultaneously and respond cohesively.
To ensure Future Transport projects are not abandoned to business-as-usual complacency, TfNSW will establish a unit to prototype new digital applications (according to the roadmap). The Transport Digital Incubator will “stimulate opportunity for data scientists and developers to innovate” and become a “global hotspot” for transport data sciences.
A Smart Innovation Centre will also be set up to develop and trial automated vehicles and new road safety technology.
Based on an understanding of the likely ways people will use emerging transport technologies, stakeholders responsible for the roadmap devised five strategies for the future of public transport provision. These are to:
- “Personalise customer interactions;
- transform the mass transit network;
- foster shared, demand-responsive services;
- enable connected and automated vehicle platforms; and
- create intelligent transport networks, managed with data.”
The roadmap was formulated by a Leaders Panel made up of senior representatives from government and the private sector. The Leaders Panel is co-chaired by Chair of the CSIRO and JobsNSW David Thodey, and Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre Andrew Stevens.
TfNSW’s 12-month Future Transport program kicked off in April. Central to the program is building smarter systems to cope with growing demand for the state’s transport systems.