While the traditional bus and coach industry may not have the best reputation when it comes to innovation, we’ve found some regions that are driving extraordinary change through technology. In Japan, Next Mobility has developed on demand route planning through AI, and S’elega is carrying a world first in safety technology. Then the Arriva bus company in Europe is training drivers through smart telematics systems. Also noteworthy is how San Francisco’s private and public transport sectors are sharing mobility data.
For many of us, ground travel plays a major role in our lives, hence it is tremendously gratifying to see how technology is evolving the industry to improve our experience. Let’s take a closer look at how it is driving change in a few key regions.
Latest Tech Trends In The Transit Industry
Artificial Intelligence is Going to Control On-Demand Bus Services in Japan
In Japan, the Mitsubishi Corporation and Nishi-Nippon Railroad Company have combined forces to create Next Mobility, a joint venture set to change the way people move around their cities.
April saw the company launch a one year trial where AI is being used to control on-demand bus services in a section of Fukuoka City in Japan. From data supplied by smartphone apps, AI automatically generates routes in real-time, based on passenger requests.
Their goal – to use deep learning to collate “operational data” on both traffic conditions and passenger destinations. This would help buses to run in a more efficient way the more they are used.
Arriva Introduces Emissions Reductions Scheme For European Bus Fleet
European bus service provider Arriva has just recently signed a contract with TomTom Telematics to install an advanced telematics system in up to 15,000 buses in its fleet. The purpose of the advanced piece of technology…. to provide drivers with real-time driving data which can be used to improve driving practices.
The fleet management system known as WEBFLEET gives drivers instant feedback on braking, acceleration, and idling, providing them with insights on how to perform these functions in a way that reduces the buses fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
Through improved driving practices, Arriva expects to cut down on fuel use by up to 6% each year as well as reduce Co2 emissions by 72,000 tonnes.
Japan Debuts Safety Technology That Automatically Stops Bus After Detecting Health Problem With Driver
July 1st marked the release of Hino Motors brand new S’elega bus model, which introduces a world first in safety technology for commercial vehicles.
The transport ministry in Japan has reported a rise in the number of serious accidents caused by drivers unexpectedly faced with an emergency health problem behind the wheel. In a bid to improve safety, the S’elega has a camera installed onboard which will monitor the driver’s posture. It has been designed to detect any unnatural positions, including monitoring the angle of the driver’s head and heavy leaning to one side.
Should the technology detect unusual posture, or if the driver fails to react when the bus crosses a lane at 60 kph or more, it stops the bus immediately. It also activates hazards and an emergency buzzer to alert passengers and other road users of the potential danger.
Image from the japan times
San Francisco Lays Down Mobility Data Sharing Requirements
To get a better understanding of the market share of various transit modes in the city, as well as to perhaps lay the groundwork for MaaS, the San Francisco Country Transportation Authority (SFCTA) has set some guiding principles for mobility and technology providers joining the industry.
Stated in their guiding principles of emerging mobility is “Emerging Mobility Services and Technologies providers must share relevant data so that the City and the public can effectively evaluate the services’ benefits to and impacts on the transportation system and determine whether the services reflect the goals of San Francisco.”
With these new principles governing the future of transport in the city, it becomes clear that this could be a starting point for Mobility as a Service. After all, it's based on the principles of a subscription service designed for a sharing economy. Therefore, for it to be truly effective, transit providers have to collaborate and be part of the solution that provides a more complete journey option for passengers.
MaaS aside, these principles also suggest that data collected from emerging technology is going to be used for purposes of planning transit in the city with a focus on alleviating congestion. Which brings us to our next point.
The City Is Also Backing The Use of Technology In High-Occupancy Transit Modes
Another of the guiding principles of the SFCTA is to support high-occupancy modes of transit over low-occupancy modes.
“Emerging Mobility Services and Technologies must support, rather than compete with public transit services, must account for the operational needs of public transit and encourage use of high-occupancy modes.”
Consider Uber. As one of the pioneers of transit technology, they initially hit the market as a ride-hailing service for a single app user. From this came the emergence of carpooling or car sharing companies such as Lyft and Zipcar. Today we have progressed to technology such as Next Mobility which is being tested in the bus setting.
While this sentiment is of a global nature and not singularly applicable to San Francisco, it’s interesting to see the trend replicated in the city’s guiding principles.
With players in the industry already making bold moves towards the future, it’s just a matter of time before today’s emerging technology becomes an everyday norm.
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