5 Transportation Trends that are Modernizing Today’s Cities

July 23, 2019 Renee Ray

 

Technology is reshaping the transportation industry.  We can see the effects of technology impacting many parts of our journeys today, from mobile payments for bus tickets to vehicles that communicate with traffic lights and each other.  If you've rented a scooter or a bike with your phone, or pulled into the parking garage at the airport and already knew there were 25 open spots on level 4, then you've already experienced some of these changes.

As a leading provider of technology for government agencies and authorities around the world, Conduent Transportation is constantly identifying trends that are modernizing our industry, and developing solutions to help our clients adapt and harness them to meet their policy goals, improve safety, and maintain financial sustainability. Here are some of the big trends we see affecting our clients:

Mobility as a Service and Mobility on Demand 

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is becoming an increasing focal point for the future of transportation.  MaaS has a number of definitions, but it typically focuses on using a single platform to purchase multiple transportation modes, often as a subscription --- some call it the Netflix of travel. MaaS is currently being tested in numerous innovative pilot programs in Europe and Asia.  However, in North America, we’re beginning to see industry leaders gravitate towards the idea of Mobility on Demand (MOD).  While the two are related, they don’t exactly mean the same thing.  MOD focuses on enabling people to making personalized transportation decisions based on real-time information and on their schedules – whether it be through transit, ride-hailing, walking, or a bike- or scooter-share. 

One of the significant challenges of both MaaS and MOD is the need to aggregate information from multiple third-party vendors and provide a secure payments environment. Conduent Transportation is well-positioned to help agencies do just that. We currently process over 200 million transactions every day, many of them in back-office solutions that apportion revenue across over a dozen providers or more. Our Mobility Companion Platform (MCP) provides an example of an offering that increases travel personalization: it integrates real-time information from metro and bus transit, as well as bike-share, parking, and even ferries to help travelers identify their best travel options at any given time. In 2017, we collaborated with one of our clients, Hauts-de-France Mobilités, on a solution they call “passpass.fr”, which provides real-time, inter-departmental, door-to-door trip planning to commuters from 19 transport authority districts.

Vision Zero

More than 37,000 people died in traffic accidents in 2017, and the number of pedestrian deaths has increased 35% year-over-year --- an indication that cities need to do more work around traffic safety, especially as impaired and distracted driving continue to threaten public safety.

According to the Vision Zero Network, a campaign focused on helping communities eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries, there are several low-tech traffic safety solutions, too, such as redesigning roads, lowering speed limits and building curb extensions, that reduce vehicle speed and improve traffic safety.

In the U.S., more and more cities are adopting programs to support Vision Zero and determine what contributes to these incidents and what needs to be done to reduce and prevent them.  In part, the answer lies in technology. 

More apps and devices have come onto the market that prevent texting while driving, some of which parents can install onto their car's dashboard to prevent teens from texting while behind the wheel. Other apps even block incoming texts and emails to prevent distracted driving.

Innovations like these apps work on a micro level, but at Conduent Transportation we've created technology that can make millions of people safer. Our automated photo and video enforcement solutions, for example, enforce traffic safety by capturing traffic violators traveling at unsafe speeds, running red lights, and more to help create an environment that is safer for all – including pedestrians and bicyclists. 

Electrifying transportation

As reducing carbon emissions becomes a global concern, many governments are leading initiatives to reduce transportation emissions, in part by electrifying vehicle fleets. Electrify America is funding $2 billion in new charging infrastructure, access, and education by 2027. In 2018, the federal government allocated $84 million for a “Low or No Emission Vehicle Program" to fund electric and zero- or low-emission buses in 41 states.

Electric scooter and services, including Bird, Lime, and Scoot, have launched in cities across the country. San Francisco even has embraced electric transportation by starting a one-year pilot program to test electric scooters for public transportation.  Electric transportation not only can reduce pollution, it also may go a long way toward easing traffic congestion.

As a systems integrator and payment integrator, Conduent Transportation has a unique role to play in helping our clients reduce their carbon footprint.

Smart transportation systems

Transportation is becoming more intelligent. The pace of change in hardware development means that many public agencies want to reduce the money they spend on proprietary hardware and increase the data collection and analytics capabilities of the hardware they have invested in.

As an example, 11% of global parking spaces are now smart, and experts project spending on smart parking solutions will exceed $3.8 billion in the next four years.  Smart parking, which uses connected, sensor-based technology, gives drivers who download an app real-time information on parking availability, but it also gives cities valuable data on traffic patterns they can use to improve their transportation infrastructure and traffic safety.

However, smart parking goes beyond hardware and also focuses on digitizing parking processes.  In late 2018, Conduent Transportation implemented a smart virtual permitting program in Columbus, OH.  Using self-service online portals, customers could easily apply and pay for permits and manage their account credentials 24/7.  This simplified the permit process for customers and allowed City staff to free up resources to assist customers quickly with urgent issues.  Using the data from these programs, City staff were also able to make data-driven solutions to determine how to improve the program. 

5G & the move toward autonomous vehicles

5G wireless networks won't just affect how fast you can load data and information onto your smartphone.  The technology also has implications for transportation, especially automated vehicles.

Self-driving cars rely on data for decision-making, and the vehicle’s ability to react depends on how quickly that data is delivered. This will have a huge impact on public safety. 5G also will affect the connectivity of transportation networks. Mobile, the cloud and the Internet of Things are all essential to the smart technologies cities rely on for things like smart parking and traffic enforcement. However long it takes for autonomous vehicles to become a commonly available technology, 5G will be critical to ensuring this emerging form of transportation is as safe as possible.

As the nature of the vehicle changes, what we do with it may change, too. Conduent Transportation already uses License Plate Reader (LPR) technology to identify vehicles running red lights or using toll lanes without paying. In the future, we may see more of an integrated payment system that provides extended capabilities such as paying for parking through your existing toll transponder or a license plate-based permit. 

The future of urban transportation

By 2050, 68% of the world's population will live in urban areas and transportation will continue to be the second biggest expense for most families.  As life increasingly shifts to metros, cities must direct more of their resources and attention to creating a safer environment and exploring cost and energy-efficient modes of transportation. Whether it's self-driving cars or mobile apps that tell you in real-time where to park, transportation as we know it will constantly evolve and become faster, better and smarter.  And Conduent Transportation will be there to evolve with the industry – providing individual, immediate, and intelligent interactions to help move mobility forward. 

Looking for more information on transportation trends and solutions? Find out more at https://transportation.conduent.com/solutions/

 

 

About the Author

Renee is the Senior Business Development Consultant for Conduent's Transportation Solutions business group.

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