Business insights

A digital future for upcoming challenges in public transport

A digital future for upcoming challenges in public transport

Anna-Theresa Korbutt, CEO Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (hvv), explains her point of view on the evolution of public transport over the next ten years declaring that it will be more appealing even to the most disaccustomed travellers thanks to new digital opportunities to facilitate access to tickets, fares, and tracks. 

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Digitalisation opportunities for developing modern strategies to optimize public transport services in everyday life.

What are the latest challenges and how does hvv view traffic and especially public transport to evolve in the next ten years?

The greatest current challenge in the transport sector is enabling a sustainable future that is compatible with the environment and climate on the one hand for the environment and the climate, but also for the inhabitants of the locations where traffic is becoming a burden. More and more cars, especially private cars, and the accompanying infrastructure dominate the overall image of a city and often make the daily journey to work, shopping, or leisure activities by bicycle or on foot a dangerous challenge. In addition, we lose hundreds of hours a year in traffic jams orAnna-Theresa Korbutt, CEO Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (hvv) looking for a parking space. This is of course where public transport comes in.
Trains, buses, and other means of local and long-distance public transport must succeed in the future not only in being an attractive by-product to one's own car but in being able to replace it completely in places where this is possible. One way to create this availability and attractiveness is the so-called Hamburg Takt. Here, we want to make it possible for everyone to reach a public transportation service within five minutes.
One driver of this change can be ridesharing, where passengers can use an on-demand means of transport together, similar to shared taxis. This can be ordered flexibly in front of one's own front door or in front of the supermarket, cinema, or workplace. On the way, other people can then get on and off, and their own route can be slightly adjusted if necessary. MOIA, for example, already offers this service in Hamburg. In the next ten years, we will be faced with the challenge of accelerating this change.
However, this will not take place solely in the transport associations such as the hvv or the transport companies that take people by rail, bus, or boat. Rather, it is up to the politicians, the Länder, and the cross-regional associations to create the basis for this change. We are talking about hard infrastructure such as roads, rails, and bus lanes, but increasingly also digital infrastructure here. An interplay between the passion of the associations and transport companies to drive the change and the willingness of the decision-makers to go along with this change and slowly shift the focus from individual transport to public transport is therefore essential. If these prerequisites are met, I am extremely positive about the next ten years.

How do you think digitalisation have affected the way people experience their travel, even in daily transfer?

I had already mentioned digitalization before. We are now confronted with it not only in public transportation but in all areas of our everyday lives. It is changing not only how we live but also how we shop, communicate, and get around. The automotive industry is working at full speed on autonomous driving.
In the hvv, we are also benefiting from this change; within the framework of pilot projects, vehicles are being tested in the hvv that transport their passengers completely autonomously through the streets.
Apart from these future technologies, however, we are already experiencing a revolution in public transport through digitalization. More and more passengers are no longer interested in carrying a plastic card with their public transportation subscription on it every day, let alone repeatedly taking out a paper ticket from a ticket machine.
The smartphone is therefore becoming more and more important as a medium for issuing our season tickets and single tickets. In this segment, our hvv switch app enables us to display the entire range of public transport in Hamburg and make it bookable.
Whether bus, train, car sharing, StadtRad, or e-scooter, everything is in one app, with one account and one partner. We are also currently working on the digitalization of our job tickets. Projects such as the digital S-Bahn, driverless underground trains, or automatic passenger counting to analyze our capacity utilization are also part of our digitalization strategy.
Of course, the Deutschlandticket, which will be offered exclusively as a digital service from May on, will also help us in the nationwide digitalization and simplification of the tariff offer.

How has "hvv Any" changed the way people travel in Hamburg? Do you think this application can persuade even the disaccustomed travellers to use public transport instead of cars?

The project "hvv any" has started very successfully in a test phase and has meanwhile been released for free use. Any is the name of our own check-in/check-out system. In this system, customers are enabled to simply get on the chosen means of transport and start traveling without worrying about having the right ticket in their pocket.
The new payment system "any" automatically recognizes when passengers change or get off and can thus calculate the cheapest total fare at the end of the day from all the journeys made.
Any is therefore a product that can make it much easier for passengers to use public transport. There is no longer any need to know about different fare regulations, rings, zones, or fare limits.
Of course, this in turn can lead to more people spontaneously preferring public transportation to private transportation. However, I don't think that the complexity of the tariff, which we are already simplifying for passengers via the timetable assistants, is the main criterion when choosing between public transport and the car.
These criteria will certainly still be mainly price and transport services. Furthermore, the imminent release of the Deutschlandticket will turn our entire tariff upside down anyway. In general, it remains questionable how many passengers would even switch from a Germany-wide flat without checking in and out to such a check-in/check-out system.

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Francesco Moretti - Fincons Group Francesco Moretti

Fincons Group

Group Deputy CEO and CEO International