Are we ready for disruption in public transport operations?

In the point-to-point transport sector, ride sharing services like UberX, GoCar and GoCatch have disrupted the industry. And government policy has been struggling to keep up, in the context of a highly regulated taxi industry and their very vocal complaints. The disruption is not over yet!

What could this mean for the future of public transport?

Autonomous Transit

In February 2016, the Western Australian Royal Automobile Club announced a trial of autonomous, driverless and fully electric series vehicle to commence in 2016 – using the French NAVYA ARMA shuttle bus – which can transport up to 15 passengers and safely drive up to 45 km/h.


This vehicle aims to complement the existing transport system over distances which are too short to travel by car but too far to walk.

Maybe a peek into the future?

Mobility as a Service

Mobility as a service (MaaS) is also building up a head of steam. MaaS combines services from public and private transport providers, across multiple modes, through a unified gateway that manages the trip, which users can pay for with a single account.

Twenty European organisations joined forces to establish the first MaaS Alliance. Also in Europe, MaaS Finland offers a choice of simple, monthly mobility packages, including everything from public transport to taxis and rental cars.

These services are an obvious extension of the ride sharing services – what are the implications for government?

Demand Responsive Transit

Demand Responsive Transit (DRT) provide flexible point to point shared ride passenger services, with flexible routing and scheduling of smaller passenger vehicles, responding to passengers needs.

Logically these services provide a niche service on a continuum of cost and level of service, between taxi and a scheduled bus services. We cannot afford as a community to fund passenger services to cover all urban areas. See previous article: Bus network design: CSO or ROI?

DRT services are particularly suited to low density or low demand urban areas, especially in regional areas where a traditional scheduled bus service is not viable.

What do these developments mean for future public transport?
What are the implications for public transport operations?

1 thought on “Are we ready for disruption in public transport operations?”

  1. I like the idea of having a mode of transportation between walking and driving. My cousin recently moved near his college campus and it’s rather too far to walk but only about an eight-minute drive. He’d love to have a system like this in his neighborhood.


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