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Future Technologies in Public Transport

London Bus and Traffic

What the Future Holds

Below follows a very interesting Blog on the topic of Autonomous vehicles for use in the transport industry, including newly introduced app-based services pros and cons as always, but all very interesting nevertheless.

Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs)

The potential benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) could prove to be significant for the future of road safety and mobility. The London Assembly Transport Committee released a report on the future of transport in London, which recognises that CAVs could possibly improve accessibility and mobility for people who have difficulty reaching the transport network. However, using a CAV requires the user to have a certain degree of digital knowledge, which could cause potential problems for elderly and disabled people who whish to use the service.

CAVs are beginning to cause concerns in regards to the impact they will make to the traffic congestion in London. Although, they could potentially use road space a lot more efficiently, people who wouldn’t normally travel by car, could be tempted into using the service more often. This would mean, if this occurs on a large scale, that CAVs will have a negative impact on emissions produced, while also potentially preventing a move towards more sustainable methods of transport, see our earlier blogs on low emission technologies and future innovations here.

A subset of CAVs are autonomous buses, which raise a number of further issues that have been questioned in the transport committee report. This being said, as a shared form of public transport, autonomous buses prove to be a far more efficient way to take up road space. This would not only reduce congestion but also emissions in the city. However, due to the fact that autonomous vehicles require little to no staffing, thousands of Londoners who are employed to drive buses could find themselves out of work. This could result in a negative impact economically for London. Removing on-board staffing personnel would also affect passengers, many people who like face to face communication will be faced with the prospect of no customer service at all.

App-based Services

Applications for smartphones have already started to have a major impact on the transport system and the way people use it. This includes apps such as Citymapper, which allows customers to plan journeys and track potential service disruption.

Growing from these apps is a service titled, Demand-responsive bus services. Traditional bus services follow strict and fixed routes allowing for the use of a timetable, Demand-responsive services are determined by journey requests made by users via a smartphone app.

Operating in a similar way to that of the Dial-a-ride minibus service, already provided by the Transport for London (TFL), Demand-Responsive bus services won’t stop outside peoples houses but at designated ‘virtual bus stops’. This is bridging the gap between the conventional bus service and the ride-sharing service.

The Mayor of London has already endorsed the principle of these services by stating ‘Demand-responsive bus services, which operate without necessarily fixed routes or frequencies, are one particular application that could potentially cater for gaps in the service provision where public transport is required. This could offer benefits particularly in outer London where travel patterns are characterised by trips having many different start and end points, and consequently conventional public transport is less able to provide services that cater for people’s needs. These demand-responsive services could also help address demand pinch-points or provide alternatives’.

An interesting debate of course, which draws attention to several topics, not just about future travel choices, but also emissions, jobs and congestion as well. Anyone with thoughts on any of the subjects raised, we’d be more than happy to publish opinions.