UITP BUSWORLD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: ELECTRIC BUS PLAYED IMPORTANT ROLE IN INTEGRATED PUBLIC TRANSPORT
During various workshops, the Union Internationale des Transport Publics (UITP) and Busworld highlighted the transition to integrated public transport in which electric buses play a prominent role. Far-reaching automation and meticulous data analysis definitely contribute to a successful operation, in which the role of the driver cannot be underestimated.
Busworld president Redgy Deschacht was delighted at the first joint congress organized by UITP and Busworld. UITP president Pere Calvet Tordera stated in his opening speech that buses worldwide account for 80% of the public transport commutes. In Europe, the bus accounts for 60% of the commutes. In the major cities, half of public transport rides happen by bus, in smaller cities and rural areas public transport is often exclusively by bus.
“Any means of transport has its place and buses – thanks to their flexibility, environmental friendliness, safety and low operating costs – make an important contribution to mobility. However, for travellers, transport alone is not going to cut it. They want additional services and integrated transport. Electric buses respond to that need as they are modern and attractive to the traveller. On these grounds, UITP also signs the charter for environmentally friendly and sustainable public transport drawn up by the European Commission”.
European consultation platforms
In the name of European transport commissioner Violeta Bulc, Nikolaus von Peter spoke about the initiatives taken by the European Union to support sustainable public transport. For example, new emission standards will be introduced by 2025 and 2030, various financing and investment projects will be set up and consultation platforms will be established to exchange knowledge and experiences. All this fits in the aim to have one in three buses run on green energy by 2025.
At the same time, cities are guided in the preparation of transition plans for the transition to sustainable public transport. “We now have a unique opportunity to make public transport safer, greener and more attractive. Wherever possible, we must look for synergies with other transport modes and technologies. Buses definitely have their place in cities that profile themselves as mobility-conscious”, said Nikolaus von Peter, who further stated that the European Commission will be focussing on multimodal transport next year.
Self-sustaining and profitable operation
Transport consultant Alok Jain (Trans-Consult) made several comments on the future of public transport in cities that have been covered by car traffic over the past few decades. He raised the image issue, for example, and wondered whether public transportation should be regarded as a public necessity or as a form of social responsibility, while taking into account the quality of life in cities and so on.
He also criticised the often far-reaching subsidization of public transport and he advocated self-sustaining and even profitable operation thereof. By going fully for automation and data analysis of customer behaviour, operation and maintenance, this is perfectly possible, as pointed out by Alok Jain, referring to Hong Kong. Network optimization has led to 7% less kilometres on a yearly basis but also to 5% more passengers. Reliability, vehicle deployability and a more customer-friendly approach lead to higher customer satisfaction. Bus transport is assessed too easily on the basis of the number of passenger kilometres and rides. That must stop. Passengers have a face, rides do not”, said Alok Jain who advised to focus more on the customer.
“Even when switching to autonomous transportation, the role of the operator should not be underestimated. The bus driver is in that case also much more than someone who is just driving the bus. He helps his customers, informs them and provides first aid if necessary. Older customers, an ever-growing group, require those forms of assistance and consider it a part of public transport comfort. In the interests of a better customer experience, we should not underestimate the human approach and the role of the driver”.