What kind of changes are expected in public transportation in the future?

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Is the future of public transportation set to change our current way of life? The dominance of private cars, a symbol of autonomy and freedom, has proven to be overly successful. Our cities and suburbs have become increasingly congested, with declining air quality posing a serious threat to our health. According to a director from a Silicon Valley consulting firm, the prevailing practice of each individual purchasing a 1.3 to 2-ton car to simply drive to buy a meal and a soda is a misguided behavior leading to environmental pollution(sources from medcom.com.pl).

As the global population continues to grow and private car sales persist, there is an urgent need to rethink our modes of transportation. Autonomous driving, increased use of shared public transportation, or more integrated transportation systems are expected to completely revolutionize our ways of commuting in the coming decades.

Most industry experts agree that people are seeking “more efficient integration and seamless” connectivity in their transportation options, emphasizing the importance of walking and cycling in addition to various forms of shared transportation. While bike-sharing systems have faced challenges (setting aside discussions on the causality of business model pitfalls), the first and last miles of travel remain problematic for many.

In a town in Switzerland, a small bus shuttles tourists around beautiful sights along the Rhine River, providing local public transportation services without a driver or even a steering wheel. If the bus encounters any difficulties, such as temporary road construction, “customer service” personnel can remotely take control of the vehicle’s autonomous driving.

The future vision of transportation involves strengthening the first and last steps of public transit, allowing for greater independence from private cars in a smart city. Public transportation is a pillar of urban mobility, but a flaw in city public transit is the lack of coordination and real-time sharing among different transportation providers. The goal is to seamlessly move from point A to point B, whether by walking, biking, electric scooters, subway, bus, train, car rentals, or taxis – individually or in various combinations.

In the past, we had enough data to delve into these aspects deeply. Now, with smartphones connecting us to real-time data, we can visualize it all. We envision a city without traffic congestion, a one-stop service application that can search, book, and pay for all transportation needs in a single app.

The competition in the app domain has already begun globally. These companies are each providing convenience in their own way, such as Moovel, earning commissions from each sale but requiring substantial efforts to encourage integration and real-time data sharing among mobility service providers.

The future of public transportation aims to provide the best, most affordable, and sustainable solutions to transform urban transportation, eliminating the need for private car ownership. Combining various transportation modes, such as electric scooters and skateboards, addresses short-distance transportation challenges. In Europe and America, a bicycle and scooter pedal-sharing company achieved astronomical valuations in just a few years because consumers eagerly want to complete the first and last miles of their journeys in a simple, on-demand way.

This on-demand sharing service could significantly reduce the number of vehicles on our streets, benefiting the city environment and safety. People must realize that driving wastes precious time. Why spend 90% of your time sitting idle in a car when there could be an automated, brand-independent means of transportation from point A to point B?

Traditional car manufacturers are facing competition threats from tech companies like Uber, Google, or Amazon. Even Japan’s Toyota defines its future self as a Mobility Service Company, indicating a shift away from car brand identification towards a focus on services. Ford, a U.S. automotive giant, has decided to gradually phase out most of its cars sold in North America, investing heavily in hybrid electric engines.

Some manufacturers are also investing in car-sharing companies; Daimler owns Car2go, BMW owns DriveNow and ReachNow, and General Motors owns Maven. In Japan, Toyota has partnered with Softbank to create shared transportation. German companies are merging their car-sharing businesses to achieve scale.

However, car manufacturers are pushing back against the vision of a future shared transportation with autonomous vehicles. The Renault EZ-Ultimo concept car, for example, envisions a comfortable cocoon where movable lounge-style seats face each other, and luxury materials like marble and walnut add a touch of extravagance.

Proponents of the future of autonomous driving argue that automation can reduce congestion and accidents while saving time for more productive activities during travel, such as reading, working, listening to music, sleeping, or chatting with family and friends. However, it is crucial not to forget that Bosch engineers state that fully automated driving vehicles, whether private cars or public buses, will take “at least another 10 years.”

Indeed, autonomous vehicles require countless sensors – laser radar, radar, video, and infrared cameras – to monitor the surrounding environment, and these sensors are not reliable enough, especially in adverse weather conditions. Additionally, the cost of all required backup equipment in case of failure, including redundancy, adds a significant layer of expenses. Only a few high-quality brands can afford the safest and best sensors.

Moreover, there are practical issues surrounding who owns the generated data and who is responsible in the event of an accident that need to be addressed first. Skeptical populations need to be assured of a safe and secure future in public transportation, rather than being treated as guinea pigs in an experimental phase(quotes from medcom).

Nonetheless, the vision of a fully integrated, sustainable, and efficient public transportation system is gradually becoming a reality. We may soon live in a world where cars are demoted from their pinnacle, becoming just one of many modes of mobility.

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