A New Concept for Urban Mobility, Part 1

As public transit is undergoing a revival in the US and around the world, is the transit experience really in sync with the times? 50 years ago the last steetcar in Baltimore was taken off the rails. In its heyday, a streetcar rider could typically expect to wait 5 minutes and sometimes as few as three. A driver or conductor would greet them as they climbed the three or so steps to get aboard and deposit their fare token, which would take them as far as they wanted to go as the streetcar followed its predetermined route. 50 years later, public transport works much the same way. There are few transportation systems that schedule less than 5 minutes between vehicles in favor of fewer, larger capacity vehicles. They still follow a pre-planned route that can’t adapt to changing conditions any faster than a lengthy public review process allows. Just swapping the fare token with a smartcard accounts for nearly all the difference of the urban transport rider experience of 50 years ago and today and yet we have at our disposal a level of technology that was only dreamt of in 1963. What would Transportation as a Service (TaaS) look like in 2015? This series of posts will look at how an urban transportation system can judiciously apply technology to increase its usefulness to customers and achieve consistent profitability.

About Suhas Malghan

This blog documents the design and development of environmentally sustainable machines and humane design practice in general; machines that work for humanity as well on the move as they do sitting still.
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