Biz Talk | All about Public Transport, challenges & opportunities

Published by Darron Toy on



hello and welcome to bass talk I am Daanish manure today we will talk about an issue which is of grave concern at this point in developing as well as the developed nations across the world and that would be public transport being the lifeline of any major or developing city public transport is actually something which the world needs to talk about and UI TP is one such organization which has been talking about it for quite some time now I have with me today the Secretary General of U ITP mr. mohammad miss connie and let us talk to him and understand from him a little bit more about what you ITP does and then dabble a bit into the challenges that the industry faces very warm welcome to you on the show thank you very much very pleased to be here see you know public transport is something which is vital which is we call it a basic human right you know the mobility factor of it and when you talk of you ITP we've seen that you've done some really great amount of work in this particular sector but tell us and our audiences across Asia a little bit more about what you've been doing and the challenges that you've been facing while doing so you ytp is the acronym a the French acronym of international association of public transport is a very old association born in 1885 at that time you know public transport was limited to tramway is tracked by horses so you ytp gathers the transport stakeholders or public transport stakeholders the companies which are operating buses and metros and trains but also the regulator's the public authorities and the supplier the supplying industry those manufacturing buses manufacturing strains or ticketing systems for example so the the public transport now is becoming a very hot topic in cities actually urban mobility is becoming a very very hot topic in cities and the priority for our cities because urbanization is growing we have more and more cities and cities are bigger and bigger so we need to answer the mobility demand of people and then public transport is a key for the the transport solution and there are challenges indeed there are challenges because we the supply in some counties or some cities is not enough so the metros and the buses are crowded we don't have enough buses or in us enough trains it's also about the the traffic congestion the traffic congestion which is slowing down the movement of buses for example and so it making public transport less attractive it's about the safety issues in some cases road safety for example in some cases it's about the the V now one of the challenges is the growing digitalization of public transport we have more and more new technologies in mobility and this new technology they are offering opportunities of course because they make the operation more efficient they make the maintenance less costly they make the service easier to use but then the onboarding costs are not necessarily not necessarily because the there is maybe higher cost of investment but the operation a course to the operating cost is lower so it's about making the investment to equip with the new technologies but then it will cost less to operate but technologies are also changing the expectations of the passengers because with this technology with the new apps they can have on-demand transport they can have this right hailing transport and so they get used to a transport which is available on demand and the challenge is to make public transport cost close to on demand to on demand and and and make the service defined from the perspective of the customer from the expectation of the customer and this is one of the challenges by and large if you look at it across the globe we developed or developing nations it has always been centric but now never really been centric to the customer and the needs of the customer it's always been about you know managing their own routes and trying to figure out which routes make most money this is this is the the main challenge now we are experiencing you're right to say that we used to have a kind of supply led transport system or or a ready-made transport system with the fire routes and stops fixed routes and the fixed timetable and and now we are moving towards the tailor-made service but defining the roots and the timetables and the the ticketing system etc from the perspective of the customers so having more flexible service having some in some cities we have on-demand public transport I'm not talking about right heading it's a really on demand public transport having mini buses on demand especially in in in in demands in in areas of low density where we cannot justify to have buses with mass transit buses we can have also ticketing which is different according to the time of the day or or or or all the week by having a special fare for peak hours and by encouraging people to take a train or a bus off-peak buy and some cities are even offering free transport off-peak to encourage people to move off-peak because there we have a capacity of buses which is not used and then it's better to attract people like you see but wonderfully said but then the main issue which I see here is that the public transport you have to get to a station be you know a bus stop we need a metro station now the last mile connectivity as you know we've been discussing over the past few days as well the last mile connectivity becomes a major issue over here because in private transport that any any individual doesn't have to worry about that the vehicle is parked right there get in the vehicle even though there's a bit of traffic dam but still it is on demand for them they can take it whenever they want to take it now how do you address how does the world address the main problem which is the last mile connectivity and this is a very important problem because if people if going to the station or two to stop takes a very long time or if it is not done in very good conditions etc people will not use public transport and so first we have to make sure that for those who work because this is the most natural it's a way of moving that they work in in in safe conditions in good pair pavements and and in in comfortable conditions then we see more and more now bike sharing system so people they can take a bike at their the neighborhood of their place and then buy and bike cycle until they reach the the stop or the stations and and this is one one way of ensuring this last mile connectivity we see now more and more cities having these scooters or a scooters it is becoming very popular but there of course we need to regulate and it to make sure it is done in very good conditions and we see also last mile connectivity with this right Elega and and with this on-demand transport and and or shuttles and we see it but if we want really to make this happen the last mile connectivity and first my connectivity it's important that the ticketing system integrate both the mass transport and the this connectivity unified indeed that in a way that we pay only once that we we have only one smart cart or one up we can use for both because there it will make the use easier and people will be encouraged to to to to have this door-to-door connection using public modes see here is a very very interesting point about the office goers right so you want the professionals who want to reach office and their workplaces which is fine they travel light the other breed of travelers is the ones who go for shopping right and then when they do go for grocery shopping they love they they prefer to take the public transport because it gives them the ease of storage as well do you think there is also a design problem as well which has not been really addressed in the public transport system that it is not equipped to handle their shopping bag the shopping carts etcetera as well now for example for buses or trains serving airports or serving train stations in many cities we see there are special places yes for luggages and and and in the same in the same carriage I mean that so they they have their luggage so we need to encourage this kind of equipment for in buses which are serving shopping malls so this is will will will come of course what we see also it sometimes this shopping malls themselves are organized transport so they have their own buses to encourage people to come to the shopping mall by bus and not by car or the home delivery now or home delivery etc so so there is there is a movement to let's say to help people traveling in very comfortable situations and not feel obliged to to come by car tell me what is your your personal ideal dream for the future of public transport I mean the future of public transport I would say is linked and to the future of cities we cannot think public transport without considering the the life in the urban life the life in cities and the main challenge there is about how we distribute the road space between the different modes and with different usages of the road and what my vision is that we have to limit the place dedicated to cars you know when someone want to smoke this person should go to a smoking area for cars is exactly the same you want to drive a car you have to go to a special lane for the cars and the rest is for the other modes the buses and bikes and scooters and working because working is the priority so we have to rethink the the distribution of space according to the priorities and the priorities is to move people not to move move vehicles and this is how I I see the city of the which is exactly quite interesting because you know when you look at the roads and the way they have distribute especially in developing nations pedestrian has no right whatsoever in in in countries like India and Bangladesh Nepal and Sri Lanka and all of these nations so what are you doing to address that have you started any work in these particular nations to try and raise the awareness about the value of a pedestrian indeed I mean of course we don't target one nation in particular but the work we do is of a global dimension and and for us it's very clear that walking is the priority and it means banning parking of cars on the pavements because this is something we see or we see often sometimes it's for these street sellers who take also the space so the the pedestrian areas are for pedestrians and when we need enforcement we need the enforcement because this is the issue if there is no enforcement people they will do what what they want to do and then they will not respect the pedestrians and and and pedestrians are the priorities and we really have to to think the city differently and we see many examples of cities who have introduced for example tramways and because the tram wheels and the pedestrian they they they can live together very well and so they pedestrianised some streets having the tram we in the middle and the pedestrian on both sides and and so it's a kind of peaceful cohabitation between the different modes you said enforcement I'm gonna hand you an olive branch what about education I think that's gonna play a major factor more than an enforcement because living in a civilized society would we want to be enforcing too much no but you're right education is the basis because if you want to enforce you have to first tell to people what we want to enforce and we have to educate them and also when we educate you have to explain it's not only about giving instructions but to explain the benefits and explaining the benefits of public transport is also saying that public transport emits three to four times less co2 emissions or greenhouse gas emissions or pollution than the private car for example and then people will understand oh if I travel to for with public transport then it is it is less polluting so it is part of the of the of the education it's education about the impact on safety it's education about the impact on health I mean why public transport also is encouraged by the World Health Organization it's because those who use public so they walk and when they walk is healthy so so this kind of of of messages are very important but it's also educating the political decision-makers it's not just the travellers or the citizens is the political decision-makers because one of the challenge we see in some cities that this decision makers they want to have only short-term processes because they are there for three or four years and they want to make sure that we deliver projects duty have their name you know indeed they want to inaugurate that you know and and but mobility is a long-term investment you have we have to accept that we are investing now and in five 10 years 15 years the conditions will be better and we mind and the one who took the decision to invest he might not be there exactly so I will talk about investments but you know there is one more problem the congestion issue in in in metropolitan cities and major cities across the world is massive governments came up with congestion charge in some places it worked a bit in most places it ended up as sort of a disaster because people got used to it and then they started paying more of course the government's made more money they still do that money is used for the betterment but then it didn't solve the basic purpose so I'll ask you this congestion charge versus behavior change communication what would you prefer first congestion charge of course this the immediate effect is the reduction in the inlet traffic but if we want to sustain this effect we need to develop an alternative to those who accept not to use their car and the alternative is to have this public transport and biking and and and and and and other modes shared modes so I would say if we don't introduce this immediately or even before we have implies the congestion charging it the congestion charging will lose its effect so it's important it's it's a carrot and stick approach ok the carrot is the alternative the alternative mode and the stick is the congestion charging all the parking restriction so so this is very important to have this integrated approach ok now speaking of financing and stuff most cities it's the the city the state or the government which handles public transport because they see it as a service but then the element of public-private partnership is also there which one do you think would make more sense in the days to come so that the commuter has better mobility better quality better service which is biased towards the commuter and not the other way around public-private partnership could be deployed in many different ways the first is that we have an authority public authority which is responsible to organize transport and this is very important and unfortunately in many cities we don't have such authority so having authority which is in charge of that and this Authority will delegate the operation to private operators because you know the private operators they have the experience to but based on the rules defined by the authority is not delegating is not just giving the the freedom to the operator to do what what I want this is one way of public-private partnership but the public-private partnership could be also in the way we develop the infrastructure by involving the private investors in developing this abstraction and they are then get to return on their investment by the operation of the system but that that return part no could you mention there I'm sorry I'm a member sort of cutting a shot here but then the problem here is that many in many cities we've seen that in PPP models what happens as the returns happen over a long period of times rather investments right in some cases that I've spoken to some of these investors they're like it's really not worth it because you know if we put our money elsewhere it's gonna make us three times more money but if you put money here it's going to take a long time for us to make money it takes a long time but this is the I would say the nature of public transport projects especially if you and of course if you invest in bus system it will take less time than investing in a metro system but the companies who are involved in this are companies who who are developing infrastructure who are developing long term investment so they are used to this kind of investment I don't think they they are surprised because it has it's not general it's not generating revenues immediately maybe one one additional aspect of public-private partnership or nah or how to involve the private sector in the development of public transport is about for example land value capture land value capture means that if you when you build the Metro we realize that the value of the properties around the metro stations Orlan the land around the mr. metro stations the value increases and and though the the land developer didn't put one one dollar in the investment of public transport so it's important that we find a way to make those land developers or real estate developer pay part of their of their revenues to develop public transport is the world ready for autonomous transportation and disjunction autonomous transportation offers a lot of benefits and one of them what for me is that it reduces the cost of operating transport and also it improves safety definitely the problem is that is how we make these autonomous vehicles share the streets exact with the regular vehicles and we are not ready yet for that so what we see now with some experimentation so photon musicals but in dedicated or or protected lands I completely agree with you there are some legal issues as well in terms of compliances and stuff but what is stopping us from you know making the metros and trains that almost you know the first the first autonomous Metro was was put in operation in Japan in 1982 and now we have reached 1,100 kilometers of autonomous metros you have it in Paris in Singapore in Japan in Dubai the Metro stores in Saudi Arabia they're building six metro lines which are or autonomous so there is there is a number of cities who have autonomous metros and and the technology is very well is very well controlled okay the next step will be autonomous buses and this I think we will have Fortuna most buses before even we have autonomous cars because buses they can be in in reserved lanes separated from the general traffic and one word about autonomous vehicles is that if we if we just replace the existing cars by autonomous cars or if we just you know take off the the driver from the car we will not solve the an issue so it's important that autonomous vehicles are shared and they are complementing mass transit and which will remain the backward clean diesel versus electric what do you favor you know first is when we introduce public transport is already and we if we transfer people from car to public transport is already cleaner it's already cleaner okay then if we do it let's do it with clean vehicles diesel now if there are standards for diesel and one of is they called euro 1 euro 2 these are European standards but who now we adopted worldwide the last standard the latest one is euro 6 and this is already very clean but cities they want to cleaner even and so they decide so most of them or some of them to adopt electric buses and we see deployment of electric buses in the world there are now about 450,000 electric buses in the world but we have to see also from where it comes this electricity if it comes from coal I mean it will I would say it will make a little impact in the city itself because in general the power plant is outside of the co but was the global warming it doesn't change anything so so it's important that the electricity is also produced using a clean clean tech technology and the other aspect is that if a clean bus is stuck in traffic it doesn't make it more attractive than a conditioned bus so it's important that the priority is to give to give the priority to the buses over cars and then if we can have them electric plane right yeah so the other issue over here would be you know in autonomous vehicles and stuff for instance would be the element of cyber security now you know the security elements there are of paramount importance because what if somebody were to hijack in the situation what we see in the world today do you think that could be a challenge that the industry will have it is a challenge of course in all industries not just in in transportation in the sea in the banking industry in the telecom industry cyber security is a challenge and that's why we need to design systems which are which can prevent this these attacks we also see systems where there is a redundancy of the of the equipment that in case there is a problem we can use I mean alternate equipment we we we need also we need also the skills the right people to get to to control they steal them from banking perhaps exactly I mean in transport we compete with other because they are not the transport experts we don't need transport access for that we cyber security expert and so we have to compete with other sectors and and the challenge for us in public transfer is to make our sector attractive innit and and to to strengthen the our brand as employer to make them come and but the cyber security is certainly an issue but the technology and the the knowledge is also progressing rapidly you spoke about making it attractive employer indeed but from what we know I think I saw one of your tweets around 14% of women make the pickup for the women in the workforce in in public transport overall do you think that is a challenge and how it should the will be addressing it no it is a challenge but in an opportunity because if we have only 14% which means it means the potential is high to have more women in public needs to be intense yes and and that's why we need really to encourage this women to come we need also to I give you one example there is one company in Canada in the city of Montreal the transport operators there in their recruitment they now have panels for to interview candidates and independent they decided to have women and men in the panels because they used to have only men in the panels and they noticed that now they recruited more women so sometimes very simple very simple measures small tweaks yes could encourage the the employment of women and also we you know public trans with majority in some countries it may be not in India but in some countries the majority of the travelers are women and and it's important that those who work in the sector they reflect also those who use absolutely well my last question to you before we wrap up today's interesting session would be looking at developing nations at this point of time you know after since you since you have seen it globally since you've involved in this 24/7 literally in the sector of mobility what do you think that the developing nation should keep in mind in the years to come when it comes to mobility and public transport no they should really have an approach where they think about the city about how to make the city more people-friendly how to make the city cleaner how to make the city more a more attractive how to make the city more economically dynamic and more better quality of life in this city and if we have an approach of of with this in mind we will automatically go to us this type of mobility with public transport with shared modes with clean modes with working with cycling so this this the development of this kind of approach that will make the city a better place to live in and the city which is economically much more growing and attracting more tourists more tourism more business and creating more jobs in the city mr. secretary-general it was a pleasure having you on the show and I hope that in the days to come that governments across the world encourage public transport and the use of public transport specially in the developing nations that would be all for today I'll see you again very soon till then do take good care of yourselves


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