FreeWord – Mass Transit

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Hi folks! It’s time to jump on the train of Mass Transit.

People move more frequently, further, and faster than ever before. Generally, Mass Transit makes it possible to move people with greater efficiency, and it plays a crucial role as it significantly impacts the quality of people’s lives and is often the primary way of reaching education, employment, and essential services. Meanwhile, all of this movement comes at a cost – not only for the train or a bus ticket but also an environmental cost. To improve regional decrease in emissions, especially particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), the following factors must be taken into consideration: operational efficiency, scheduling power, and demand. 

The definition of Mass Transit system – Large-scale public transportation designed to get a controlled flow of large numbers of people from point A to point B in a given metropolitan area, typically comprising of buses, subways, and elevated trains. The system doesn’t allow individual passengers to have any control over the vehicle in use. Mass transit is also called mass transportation or public transportation.

Evolution of Mass Transportation

The very first form of public transportation was multiple people riding animals. With the invention of the wheel, it changed to riding in groups on vehicles pulled by animals. Eventually, development brought cable cars, larger-capacity steam-powered trains, combustion engines, electric vehicles, and hydrogen trains.

The history of urban mass transportation is strongly bound to the urbanization and evolution of technology, which throughout history has been shaped by new inventions. It’s a story of a gradually increasing range of travel, speed, and vehicle capacity, that has shaped cities and structured the lives of the citizens.

Paris Agreement

On the 4th of November 2016, the Paris Agreement was announced with a purpose to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. C40 and Arup published Deadline 2020 outlining the pace, scale, and prioritization of action needed for C40 cities, which collectively represent 650 million people and make up a quarter of the global GDP. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. 

Urban Living

More and more people are moving to cities; we are living in a world with 55% of the global population living in urban areas as of today. By 2050, it is estimated that the number will increase to 68%. This increasing urbanization makes the existing problems of traffic even worse. The research suggests that providing more infrastructure alone won’t solve the problems. It’s simply too expensive, and in a best-case scenario, it only offers temporary relief, which is why it’s necessary to make the existing private and public transport infrastructure more efficient. 

Recent Breakthrough

As of today, the most popular modes of travel are buses, cars, and trains. In many major cities, public transportation has been suffering from poor profitability, reliability, and customer experience. During recent years a significant amount of valuable data has been collected, and analyzing this data has helped to improve operational efficiency, scheduling power, and provide high demand services. In addition, it opens new opportunities for software tools that will connect with AI to create a more organized and streamlined system.

Solutions for the commuters that have been expecting more personalized services and pleasant experiences are here – Micro-Mobility and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS):

Micro-Mobility – or devices that fit one to two people (e.g., electric scooters) have become not only a viable but also a preferable solution for “the first and last mile,” which has been a challenge to mass transit for quite a while. New innovative types of vehicles that are suited for shared/rental use keep appearing. With new safety regulations (helmets, age restrictions, etc.) that make sure drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are safe, micro-mobility is expected to keep evolving as new innovative devices continue to make their entry.

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) – is the integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service. It seamlessly combines public transportation, taxis, car rentals, and car/bicycle sharing from different providers under a single platform that’s accessible from a smartphone. It handles everything from travel planning to payments that are distributed between all operators. For the user, this means a simple solution to the inconvenient parts of individual journeys, an easy single payment, access to improved user and demand information. 

MaaS provides an alternative option for a private car that may be as convenient, more sustainable, helps reduce congestion and constraints on transport capacity, and can be even more affordable.

This invention was brought to daylight by Sampo Hietanen, the founder of the MaaS concept in Finland, where it already plays a key role in the national transport policy. MaaS has significant potential. Besides improving consumers’ lives and protecting the environment, it offers numerous business opportunities across the globe.

New Concepts

Hyperloop – In 2013, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveiled early plans for a multibillion-dollar Hyperloop concept, intending to significantly cut travel time between major cities by using levitated pods with an electric motor through a low-pressure tube. The goal is to start moving passengers by the “mid-2020s”. In addition, Hyperloop is designed to operate on demand rather than a fixed schedule, reducing wait times. 

Conclusion

Public transit companies could soon become much more profitable if they consistently apply all the innovative technologies out there. By integrating Maas into the system, the range of options is taken to a whole new level: stretching from micro-mobility to fleet automation and electrification, to the use of robot-shuttles and ride-pooling, to the deployment of real-time data for predictive maintenance.

Operators should now praise these emerging opportunities, which can bring them better control of their operating procedures, lower maintenance costs, progressive energy-efficiency, and improved safety. In addition, new global obligations should be placed to decarbonize the transport sector, not only to create a cleaner, healthier, and more affordable future but in attempts to make public transit run smoother and more accessible to the general public.


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