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Breaking Down Transportation Silos: Reflections from the 2017 ITS World Congress

During my colleague’s panel session at the 2017 ITS World Congress in Montreal, she proudly held up an OPUS card, asking attendees about their commuting experience that morning. The reaction was great and it was an unexplainable feeling to know that our company and the brilliant minds we work with are behind making commuting easier in the city. Conduent is the transportation service provider connecting 19 public transit operators in Montreal – the largest interoperable network in North America – with one contactless card: OPUS.

Montreal is just one example of a city’s transportation agencies collaborating and breaking down the silos to provide a seamless and better transportation experience for its constituents. Many of the conversations I had at the conference were focused on this topic. I was pleasantly surprised by decision-makers’ and stakeholders’ readiness and interest in understanding how to make transportation more seamless and integrated. Our discussions explored ways to make existing systems easier to use, and how new and old systems will merge over time to create integrated solutions like using the same card to ride transit and to also pay for parking.

The question of how cities can accelerate the adoption of new technologies so that migrations happen quicker in communities and cities remains. Christian Chenard-Lemire from Genetec Inc., Patrick Lauziere from Orange Traffic Inc., Patrick Ricci from Urban Mobility Management Center and my colleague, Pat Elizondo, addressed this during their session on smarter cities. To accelerate adoption, collaboration must exist on every level, starting within the city’s agencies. Budget information and spend transparency combined with citizen benefit will lead to better collaboration and being able to offer the community best of breed technology.

Despite privacy concerns, collaboration must exist between public and private entities. I believe platforms that allow data to flow from all sources is necessary. Agencies and vendors must openly share information around schedules, routes and other elements, which will allow cities to aggregate data and give a complete view of all transportation options. Furthermore, government agencies worldwide can’t adapt to all the new technologies being introduced by the private sector, creating a major lag in the implementation of new transportation technology as projects take many years to come to fruition while technology changes much more quickly. This makes it even more important for public and private entities to work together because these partnerships will allow projects that use emerging technology to be delivered faster and with better quality so they impact mobility in cities in the best way. We’ve seen the public private partnership model work in several cities around the country, like Indianapolis and Los Angeles.

Mobility-as-a-Service is a great example of when public private partnerships work well because true MaaS requires a mix of public and private entities coming together to meet the needs of citizens. People want easy access to mobility and they want solutions available on their phones. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in innovations that allow people to pay with their smartphones or see smart itineraries that offer access to shared mobility (e.g. public transport, carpooling, ridesharing) with no barrier. At Conduent, we’ve worked on two apps – Seamless and the Go City apps – that enable MaaS and aim to meet citizens’ needs. The Seamless app makes it easier for public transit riders to pay for their travel without the hassle of missing tickets or cards. The Go City apps are live in Los Angeles, Denver and Bengaluru, and bring together a mix of public and private transportation options with suggested routes that are arranged by cheapest, fastest and greenest.

ITS World Congress is a stage for industry progress and discussions of what’s next. It was clear that the integration of all things is the next chapter in transportation. I am looking forward to being a part of this next chapter and helping to shape the future of mobility.