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Better travel prognoses with Transport Analyst

Influencing travellers’ behaviour with data

· Public Transport,mobility,Analysis

In our previous blogpost we elaborated on the new Dutch Mobility Plan, that was presented by the public transport operators of the four largest cities and the Dutch Railways. We concluded that the future public transport requires more than investing 20 billion in common steel and electrified solutions. So, how can we contribute to responsible decision making towards sustainable mobility? To get a mobility infrastructure in place that will truly solve issues like congestion, population imparity and environmental concerns, a proper analysis strategy is key.

To recap, this Dutch Mobility Plan specifies around 12.5 billion euro for possible measures which increase capacity and expand the infrastructure, but only about 1 billion to make public transport more intuitive and easier. So, just one million to improve access, payment methods, travel information and wait times. Another astonishing investment was the about 1.5 billion for increasing sustainability and the level of ‘zero emission’. But what about making public transport more flexible, for instance by helping improve first and last mile transport and stimulating sharing economy solutions? No amount was specified for that, even though these solutions would have a powerful impact on the desired end result.

Digital transition in transport planning

Optimising the travellers’ door to door journey is an challenging issue. The strategy needs to be defined based on an objective analyses. Especially integrating on-demand, digital, shared services in terms of planning, booking, travel, support, modification and payment, is complex and easily underestimated. It certainly requires the next level of customer centricity and co-creation. Something that so far has seemed alien to the public transport sector. Yet redesigning the way we deal with transportation needs in this joint manner will be key to customer adoption of mobility solutions beyond public transport’s current share.

Infrastructures and mobility chains that connect all forms of transportation will help the transition to sustainable cities and regions. Supporting and digital solutions are a crucial part of these chains. But as market parties, how are we going to find partners in operators to set up digital infrastructures and information chains that ensure the highest efficiency and customer centric approach?

Assessing accessibility needs an objective analysis

The future traveller is focused on flexibility. Optimising mobility will therefore only succeed when we incorporate adaptive planning in public transport strategies. We need to change the public transport DNA, make it more digital and agile. Before setting change in motion, keep in mind that flexibility evolves around four pillars: vicinity, connectivity, unimodality and multimodality.

The imparity between the sparsely peopled areas and the densely populated areas will continue to grow. How can public transport keep on supporting all travellers without waste in resources and customer dissatisfaction? Well, by making better prognoses through door-to-door analyses.

Adaptive planning is the enabler of the future of (public) transport. Transport Analyst, a solution that evolved from the open source OTP project, is a technology that was co-created with Movares, among others, to help build sustainable infrastructures. It focuses on enabling decision making based on the objective, transparent analyses of all variables involved. These smart analyses also include isochrones that provide efficiency and social insights.

Influencing travellers’ behaviour with data

If you look at the travel behaviour of the average Dutch population, you can conclude we all intend to travel within the same short time span every day. Especially in densely populated areas. As a results, cities are suffering traffic jams and packed trains. If we could provide travellers with better travel information, connections and infrastructure this would solve a great part of these inconveniences.

Recently it was announced that 9292 and Translink will be sharing data about customer demand and behaviour of travellers with governments and transport operators in order to optimise public transport. They aim for transport parties to predict traveller flows and to create understanding about efficient use of resources. The most interesting goal might be to find out more about the factors that influence the travellers’ behaviour: how can customer demand be converted into actual travel behaviour?

We applaud the fact that the data will be shared. Finally, we must add. At Plannerstack we have been trying to persuade parties to provide this information for a while now.

Transport analyst for better decision making

In order to deliver proper prognoses you need to have a planning tool in place that can include as many as possible of the variables that determine accessibility: travellers’ behaviours as well as available modalities, (future) alternatives, location, population, jobs and other ‘points of interests’. With that in mind, Movares chose Plannerstack co-founder Conveyal’s open source solution for a collaboration that could benefit government and other public bodies, public transport operators, business investors, business districts and service developers.

Transport Analyst can calculate the fastest travel time from one location to all locations (or the other way around) within the reach of a chosen time span from 0 till 120 minutes. Additionally, it can take into account the chosen modality or combination of modalities. Door to door, including walking, cycling or Park and Ride options. And it allows for editing, i.e. modifying existing connections and/or adding new ones in the prognoses.

What does this mean in practice?

It means stakeholders are able to make better decisions on whether they should introduce, remove or change public transport connections. Or to get insights on the impact of an operator changing or cancelling public transport services by executing an analysis of alternatives. Which can for instance provide valuable guidance on which alternatives to focus on and commit costly resources to in subsequent, in-depth analysis of future demand for transportation. And it can for instance also serve to provide organisations with advice on locations to establish a business or office in, based on accessibility to customers and employees. These are only a few of the widespread possibilities.

The Metropolitan region Rotterdam The Hague (MRDH) has already experienced Transport Analyst’s effectiveness in analysing accessibility and public transport network quality in long term studies. The Metropolitan Region Amsterdam used the platform among other things to help prioritise a growing number of public transport infrastructure projects and measures competing for resources, based on their impact. And new applications and interested customers continue to arise for this innovative way of leveraging geospatial and mobility related ‘big data’ for rational decision making.

Questions?

Don't hesitate to contact Martin Jansen at martin@plannerstack.org 

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