Today, we’re exploring UK transport advancement across the coming decade. The number of people globally who live in urban areas is rising faster than the capability of transport infrastructures. Road and rail, public and private – all are under scrutiny to grow investment and develop strategies for managing increased demand.
In the UK, we can highlight the controversy surrounding the high-speed rail project from London to Birmingham. This illustrates the differing viewpoints on what strategy should be used long-term for the national transport infrastructure. Below, we take a look at some of the emerging trends which will impact UK transport advancement over the next decade.
Transport operators across all segments of the industry – trains, planes, taxis and buses – are having to adapt. New ‘intruders’ in the market and increasingly discerning customers are triggering transformative changes. These are taking place in areas like user information, payment systems, omnichannel integration and process automation. Digital advances will continue to make new approaches to the transport paradigm possible in the next decade.
Joined up journeys
There is a clear need for various types of transport systems to intelligently integrate – simply put, to make journeys easier. Rail is a case in point. The public sector runs infrastructure (tracks, stations, signalling) while private franchisees run different routes around the country. This is done with varying degrees of success (and customer satisfaction). In the next ten years, it must surely be the case that investment in rail services is increased. Particularly, the North of England could benefit, where economic activity is somewhat hampered by inadequate infrastructure.
Digital technology is making steady inroads into how we use our transport systems. It has already introduced smartphone apps, real-time journey-planning, open data for managing heavy traffic, and social customer service. In fact, when it comes to information, the ‘balance of power’ between company and customer has tipped towards the latter. Peer-to-peer cooperation is ubiquitous in many areas nowadays. This presents a more efficient and time-efficient way of operating. As a result, the expectations of a younger, and more demanding transport user-base will be met. In fact, they’ll become partners with service providers, rather than just passive consumers.
Private v Public
The next decade is likely to see an increase in the trend towards using other transport channels over privately-owned vehicles. It’s already the case that younger generations are no longer seeing the car as an aspirational possession. The following trends demanding a strategic response to these factors have been identified by governments worldwide.
Mobility as a Service
This means the integration of various forms of transport, information and payment into one single service. The preferred model works along the lines of subscription. One example would be where users pay a monthly subscription to use public transport, taxis and bike hire.
Demand responsive transport
The flexibility of business models like Uber will be taken to another level. This could mean peer-driven vehicles or ones connected to public transport, fitted with sophisticated GPS technology. This ‘dynamic’ demand responsiveness would allow for adjustments in routes in real-time to allow for new pick-up requests made.
This model of ownership involves a group (friends, for example) buying or leasing a vehicle and splitting running costs. Obviously, this would have implications for the insurance industry. However, a form of it is already operating in the ‘drive and drop’ hourly car-hire model. The sharing of bikes, cars and rides is definitely a trend to watch out for in the next ten years. These solutions will be especially relevant to the cash-strapped generation now entering adulthood.
The immediate future of transport in the UK needs to respond adequately to rapid changes in demand and in expectations. Changes in society demand that the government shows political will to address this challenge with courage in the near future.