How will users interface with the transport system in 2045? (5/11)

5. How will users interface with the transport system in 2045?

  • How will people pay for transport? What sort of ticketing system will be used? How will journeys be priced?
  • Will services be provided on a point-to-point or hub-and-spoke network? (or a combination of the two)
  • Will passengers still use timetables? How will they access information?
  • Will public transport still operate to a schedule and/or a fixed route?
  • What will the onboard experience look like?

To enter a vehicle, I assume that there will be some sort of biometric device that will identify the person and be connected to an account. I don’t know that it will be fingerprints, because those might be forgeable by then, but some sort of ‘this is me’ and for this payment the vehicle can, if it has identified me, debit this account.

I don’t think people will have to get out their phone and touch their phone to a thing, and I don’t think we will have to get out a smart card, and I don’t think it will be handled with cash.  I don’t want to speak about developing countries, or the United States, which is especially backwards in payments, but I think that’s where the cutting edge of payment deployment will be at that point.  I don’t know how accounts will be managed, whether there will still be traditional credit and debit accounts, or what the future of money looks like, but there will be some sort of account system.

The journeys will be priced probably with fixed charge plus some distance or spatial coverage charge, possibly with a time-of-day premium for peak hours.

I think we will move towards the best practice type of pricing that can still be explained to people. Comprehensibility is important.  I think that multi modal journeys will be priced as if they were a single mode, as long as there is a single operator like for public transport, That will be the case. But I don’t think that taking a taxi to public transport system will get any particular kind of discount.

Maybe transport organizations (transit providers, taxi services) will be able to negotiate that on a case-by-case basis. I just think that in general those agencies are a little bit on the backwards side to work it out, and there’s just too many players involved. All the high frequency services will basically be hub-and-spoke, and the mobility-as-a-service will basically be point-to-point.

Recall, all the bus routes that we now use so agencies can provide spatial coverage will just get cancelled and be replaced by some sort of mobility-as-a-service. These replacement services might get some special price treatment (discount) from the agency that canceled the less expensive (though less good) transit service.

Will passengers still use timetables? Probably not, because the ‘high frequency services’ are, by definition, high frequency and people will just show up, and the low frequency services will be replaced by point-to-point, on-demand, mobility-as-a-service providers.

I’m guessing that timetables aren’t going to matter, there might be real-time information at the stations telling the customer that the train will be here in 2 minutes, or 4 minutes, or whatever it is, and that will be posted, and the customer can get that on his phone, or his smart glasses, or whatever the replacement user interface is by that point.

To look at 2045, go back to 1985, and think about the changes in user interfaces between 1985 and today. We all can imagine what they might look like. Next year they will look the same as this year but they might be voice controlled with audio information, eventually they might be displaying information on glasses or in a holographic projection. I don’t know (nor does anyone) what that’s all going to look like. We all can imagine things, we see things in science fiction movies that are interesting, those sort of interfaces, I don’t know how practical they all are.

I think most of the public transport facilities in 30 years are already here today, so the onboard experience will be similar. But in terms of getting in, the platform experience might differ. There might not be paid gates as such. It’s likely we are just scanning everybody there and debit their accounts. Agencies will do this not only to get payment, but also as a security measure.  If there is somebody that doesn’t have an account somehow and is ‘off-the-grid’, then the transit police will pull them aside and ask them for their ‘papers’ and to figure out payment. Most people will have accounts.