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Smart technology will have ‘significant implications’ for transport

A combination of smart technology, social change and new business models will have ‘significant implications for transport’, according to a new report.

The report by the Urban Transport Group, entitled Smart Futures – our vision for urban transport, examines how new smart technology systems will help transform the transport networks of tomorrow.

According to the report, new and emerging data will help travellers make more informed choices and transport planners make better decisions, with a profusion of new information sources at their fingertips.

It cites the example that almost half (42%) of Londoners are now using smartphone apps powered by Transport for London’s (TfL) open data to help navigate the capital.

And the way people pay for public transport is also changing, as commuters move away from paper tickets to bankcards and other smart devices.

‘A single app on a smart device could provide information about all the options for making a journey, as well as facilitate payment to make those journeys, be it by public transport, car hire, ride share or taxis,’ the report states.

The report warns a combination of this emerging technology, social change and new business models will have ‘significant implications for transport’, which is already being seen with fewer younger people owning cars.

The new generation of electric and low-emission vehicles will also help authorities meet emission reduction targets, and improved car designs will help meet the needs of an ageing society.

It then summarises a series of key principles, which Urban Transport Group members will adopt on ‘smart futures’, which include opening up the data they hold and entering into partnerships with the private sector.

The report goes on to say that Urban Transport Group members have a unique perspective, and a key role to play, in making the most of these opportunities.

For example, the group’s members are already rolling out smart ticketing schemes, including M-Card in west Yorkshire and the Pop Card in the north east.

And Merseytravel’s new fleet of metro trains will have step-free access, making the Merseyrail network the most accessible traditional network in the country.

The managing director, customers, communication and technology for Transport for London (TfL), Vernon Everitt, who also leads for the Urban Transport Group on smart futures said the technology is ‘developing rapidly’.

‘While no one can say exactly what the future will look like, what is certain is that as transport authorities we have a key and unique role to play in shaping its development.

‘We have set out clear principles of how we will ensure technological change benefits individual transport users and supports the growing, inclusive and healthy cities that we all want to see.

‘As members of a network, each city will take a different approach. But the principles we have set out today represent a clear statement of how the UK’s largest transport authorities will approach technological change,’ added Mr Everitt.

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