Report on the EMTA general meeting, London October 2014

Report on the EMTA general meeting, London October 2014

On 9-10 October EMTA members met in London for their 33rd general meeting,hosted by Transport for London (TfL). TfL is the integrated transport authority for all traffic and transport in the Greater London area. Besides regular EMTA internal matters, the meeting discussed themes ranging from the EU Cities agenda, integrated and contactless ticketing and fares. The impact of social media and opportunities presented by big data use also were discussed with a range of experts. Over 40 participants from 20 cities learned how London is addressing today’s mobility challenges. TfL epitomizes a holistic organisation combining all areas acting as one integrated authority. Transport network planning, financing, tendering services to the market, road safety and revenue collection (e.g. Oyster card and road user charging) in Greater London. TfL believes that cities are generator of wealth and drivers of economic growth and job creation. They have a key role in sustainable development transport with many copping with population increases.




In the case of London, by November 2014 London’s population is expected to reach an all time high of 8.6 million. In 2050 over 11 million are expected to live and work in the city. The challenge for transport authorities like TfL is to meet the extra demand for travel in a sustainable way, making the city a better place to live, work and visit. ItT is doing so by constructing a new east-west railway, Crossrail, which will add 10 per cent to London’s rail-base capacity and by improving the Tube system through new trains and signalling which will increase its passenger handling capacity by 30 per cent. This huge investment is matched by a determination to put the customer at the heart of TfL’s operations and make sure that every journey matters. Click here for an overview of TfL’s latest activity.

The progress report on Near Field Communication (NFC) by Andrea Sönchen struck a nerve. Making a decision to engage with NFC is surrounded by a number of preliminary choices, while the context of the market in the NFC-ecosystem is still moving and technology is also undergoing changes. The draft NFC paper depicts the technological and tactical relevance of these choices from the perspective of an authority or city that wants to make payment and information services in public transport more easy, comfortable and secure. The goal of the analysis called for a shift to making a guideline with a roadmap for opportunities and risks. “Why are some market parties pushing authorities to NFC? What’s in it for us?” Engaging in a solution with NFC depends on a range of issues: company profile, corporate identity, ambition and risk capacity. Every single PTA has to pass them by before a clear perspective on a conclusive answer can emerge.

The NFC-ecosystem is still adrift and new technology impacts the risks, the NFC working group finally foundits way and identified the key issues. A crucial choice lies in the ticketing architecture: back office or front-end (card-centered) architecture. For Andrea’s presentation: tap here.


A workshop entitled “Putting cities at the heart of the EU agenda” discussed how EMTA and its members could influence the incoming European Commission on the importance of cities to the jobs and growth agenda. Moderator Geoff Inskip stressed that 30% or all inhabitants live in the world’s largest 100 metropolises. Most innovations take place in cities.

They need to secure first class mobility to contribute to ensure a liveable and viable environment. Thinking about smart cities demands a long term strategy. A metro is the key to the mass transit for a 20 year window. This calls for devising long term strategies.

Last July EC-president Jean Claude Juncker announced a package for investments, a jobs and growth package, to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. Cities are expected to play a crucial part in this scheme. How can our cities benefit most from this?

To enable a city to make appropriate decisions their leaders need to think what cities should focus on for the longer term. Mr Inskip deems transport schemes should primarily be evaluated by the impact on economy and interaction with households. The presentation of Geoff is available here.

Stéphanie Priou (UITP Manager) explained the remit of the European Investment Bank and the focus of the EC-package on investments, mainly by levering cities capability to foster economic growth, innovation and change.

The Commission aims to lever 300 billion Euros of budget to propel the real economy. Its main objectives:

  1. A Connected Digital Single Market ;
  2. A Resilient Energy Union, with a forward-looking Climate Change Policy ;
  3. A deeper & fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base.

The new Commissioner for Jobs, growth and investments Vice President Jyrki Katainen, has set up a strategy which pillars/fundamental ideas will be job creation, social dialogue (to combat social dumping), ITS and smart mobility and railway interoperability. Issues where metropolises and cities can punch their weight and exercise their political influence and economic interests capacities.

UITP has released a brochure for new MEPs in different languages where it showcases its line of work for the Commission’s new term. Focus is on a coherent transport policy framework, regulatory stability and maintaining the currently existing legal framework for public transport. Topics on UITP’s advocacy agenda for cities are:

  • The European Urban Agenda ;
  • A legal framework for PSO ;
  • Road charging and internalisation of external costs ;
  • Integrated ticketing and travel information ;
  • Social dialogue ;
  • Horizon 2020 research-innovation and Smart Cities (€ 200 million in 2015-2017).

UITP has recently released a Position Paper on Open Data, which contains recommendations to authorities and operators on the subject so that they can benefit from the growing pools of big data and how to make data useful to them.

Martin Bekker (economist at Stadsregio Amsterdam) showcased a new perspective on how larger cities in due time transformed into metropolitan areas. In Europe metropolitan areas will be pacesetters for economic revival, mainly as a result of the economic globalization. Their economic features are empowered by the IT-revolution, the expansion of financial markets and European integration. Metropolitan areas show a new type of local economy emerging with highly qualified knowledge, creativity and smart solutions with powerful dynamics. A metropolitan economy in 2014-2020 will be creative and smart, whilst an IT-revolution accelerates the shift from a service based to a knowledgebased economy: from supply to demand oriented (Taxi Uber, 3-D printing). Tourism and culture based leisure build a new basis for urban spatial planning. Changes in working patterns will impact connectivity, new hotspots on former industrial sites become increasingly popular as workspaces.

As a consequence public transport has to be more adaptive. Dynamic reorientation and resilience of the economy raise the question if long term planning will eventually be redundant. Urban transport has to find answers to mirror the versatile needs for diverse wishes for travel. Designing smart alternatives calls for innovative solutions.

Metropolitan areas are defining the daily urban system with a clear shift in scope: less commuting – more tourists? Less peaks in rush hours – more around the clock transport in a 24/7- economy, create new challenges and business opportunities for cities. Short-term goals and dynamic planning predominantly shape cities.

Considering the need for quick responses Martin dared to question if cities will still be in need long term planning. Martin’s presentation is here.


In the workshop on Seamless, integrated and interoperable ticketing and fare management Matthew Hudson (TfL Business Development Manager) presented the Roll Out of Multi Modal Contactless Acceptance in London. Since the launch of multi-modal contactless acceptance on 16 September 2014, there has been a constant increase in usage, currently averaging 17% per week. The number of Contactless Payment Cards (CPC) seen has also increased to 100,000 by 1 September. The number of new CPCs first used each day during the first 2 weeks went up to 30,000.

Matthew explained what had driven TfL to turn to CPCs as a solution for fare collection. He showed that 58% of the value of fares collected by TfL is from Pay As You Go (PAYG) type journeys, the rest being season tickets. In terms of total customers 86% of TfL customers use PAYG .

Matthew outlined the key factors of an Urban PAYG scheme, the need for a maximum fare to encourage customers to tap in and tap out, that the transport system gets used more intensely becoming part of the fabric of the city, but that it costs considerable money to operate a system when a proprietary smart card is used, such as Oyster. The impact on customers of having to exchange their money into Oystermoney is the queuing seen at many major gateway stationsin London.

TfL in 2007 assessed the cost of revenue collection resulting in a figure of 14% of revenue collected. This is gradually broken down to some 10 per cent and sinking. One of the costs is smart card production and distribution. Huge numbers of Oyster cards are currently issued each day. The move to accepting CPCs was not an easy one as the timeline demonstrated: it has been 6 years from conception to implementation. And a lot of investment was needed each year.

One of the key challenges in launching CPC acceptance was to educate customers how to use the new product. A key message TfL had to explain is for customers to avoid card clash and to only present the card they intend to pay with. No longer could people hold their purse or wallet with many cards inside on to a reader.

Five steps is the coverage of the FTP (Future Ticketing Programme). Step 1 was an extended trial on buses that began in December 2012, phase 2 was the multimodal launched 16 September 2014. Phase 3 will allow customers to buy season tickets and then use their CPC to access the system. Phase 4 will see changes to the Oyster card platform and phase 5 will see the old platform shut down. No dates have yet been agreed for these phases. TfL is also looking into how to adapt the cycle hire scheme so that customers can pay with CPCs.

TfL is looking at creating a standard such that different suppliers and operators of readers can communicate with a single back office. This will allow schemes to both communicate and to drive down costs by having back offices serving multiple operators. TfL is working with the national rail companies in the UK to deliver tokenised ticketing. This is where customers purchase entitlement to travel but then use their CPC to operate gates and other validation equipment.

Key lessons learned by TfL are: make a solid vision where you want to get at. Show leadership, build a sound business case, and look for suitable partnerships. Take enough time for testing. Make good use of the benefit from hard work done by others. TfL has also software it has developed which it is selling to other operators around the world. Matthew’s pitch is here.

Mr Anders Lindström (Stockholm) pictured the Stockholm situation. SLL wants to replicate the London system with the Oyster. Stockholm has a customer focus (2,7 million boardings a day, 74% of vehicles is operated by renewable fuels, 87% produced travel in peak hours). Passenger increase per day is around 40.000 and demand is growing steadily. Many different ticket solutions occur in different parts of Sweden, having trouble working out a solution with many private parties. The task is to develop the network infrastructure while Stockholm is expanding. A great need for investment exists in Stockholm and to control cost of the operations.

The goal is to simplify the explanation of what services are offered at what condition, especially to occasional travellers. The system of purchasing tickets should be easy to understand. How quick can a visitor understand the ticket vending machine? In Sweden a lot is to be gained, also for travelling across cities boundaries with different actors. Different prices can occur when administrative boundaries are crossed. There is a need for more coherence of competences. The Swedish transport market is reregulated with the aim to coordinate and harmonize many different sets of rules from different areas, collaborating with branch players private bus and rail companies. Focus is on collaborating with actor and branch players to move forward.

Marcin Rucinski (ZTM Warsaw) demonstrated the progress in the Warsaw ticketing system and its positive experience using new technology. In 2001 ZTM deployed a contactless Mifare-card in its ticketing system. Having more than 10.000 validators and many more other equipment on stations, buses, trams and trains created lots of technical problems and serious issues on security of the classic Mifare card. ZTM opts for a good solution by a NFC mobile phone emulated as a contactless Mifare. Breaking news is that ZTM recently signed a contract for the start of a test with NFC technology. Equipment and coding does not have to be renewed and adapted at very high cost, which is important to ZTM. Vulnerability of the Mifare security on the contactless card has induced a new system. Introduction of the Iphone6 last month tagged with NFC should push forward contactless payment in Warsaw transit further.

Bernt Reitan Jenssen (CEO at RUTER Oslo) launched a key message: in transport ticketing customers drive the way forward, not technology! Public transport should be managed from a customer perspective, instead of an administrative angle. RUTER tenders into the market all services on boats and buses. All tram and metro from a municipal owned company are contracted. Customers buy an interoperable ticket valid for all transport modes throughout the greater Oslo area. The customer determines if you are doing well. Complacency on customer’s opinion on a PTA’s performance is not acceptable. RUTER customers valued the RUTER mobile app by saying: it is OK, but please make it simple! As long as you secure a good frequency and reliability your customer satisfaction will not be challenged. Oslo works with open platform solutions for payment and embedded apps for visitors. Mr Jensen invited members to visit Oslo and see for them selves how successful this fare system is.

The third workshop covered “The growth of social media, big data and the online world” and the role of transport authorities in this area. TfL’s Lauren Sager Weinstein presented an overview of how Transport for London provides open data in order to “keep London working and growing and make life better. Ms Sager Weinstein explained that TfL provides transparency information for customers and data feeds for developers to power a range of customer information apps and tools now widely available. TfL also provides substantial information to customers through its website, through Twitter, and through direct emails to customers who have opted in for personalized service information. She also explained that TfL’s own analysis of its data, through big data tools and analytics provides the organization crucial insight into its operations in order to improve planning and services for its customers. Lauren’s presentation is here.

Professor Niels van Oort (Techn. University Delft) showcased the contribution of data analysis for the planning of tram and bus services by using Dutch PT-chipcard data. In his praxis Niels combines GPS-collected vehicle data (AVL) with passenger data (APC), collected via smartcard technology. The Dutch contactless card (front end) covers 19 million units with about 42 million transactions a week. Operators have recognized the relevance by starting to survey data for their network modeling and planning. Make sure to keep it simple, by starting with origin-destination data. Collect data output from e.g. operating speed and prediction of service reliability and travel times. These can be visualized by variations in speed.

By collecting data stakeholders can better predict deviations in the service level, in peak capacity and frequency and also in network routing. In Holland this will have an estimated savings potential of € 50 million. TfL is struggling to collect user data to patterns for cycling and walking (by using “cordon classics”). Possibly the Dutch data analysis can be of some assistance here. The presentation of Niels is available here.

Per Gellert (MOVIA Head of Planning) showcased the Danish transformation from analog to the use of digital platforms. A digitalization strategy means electronic strategy. No paper forms or letters in all public sectors and promotion everything of new digital welfare is electronic. Though public transport is not covered by this strategy it is natural to attune as PTA with this change of direction in society. Digital information will be easier to update, and customers expect us to deliver digital traffic information. Reducing many channels makes it clearer and easier to synchronise. Less is more: fewer channels of information with more focus and coherence.

Printed timetables are taken away from buses in a calm period. The enforcement was looked at with anxiety and concern from drivers, however only ten complaints were noted so far. Next step is to discard time schedules at bus stops. Lessons learned: involve stakeholders up front, transform from analogue to digital information gradually.

Initially a need to invest in both ways of information will remain necessary. The trend is to provide mobile solutions not only for bus and train, but for every mode. Purchase of electronic tickets mobile is still a problem and work needs to be done to integrate that feature into digital and apps.

David Vitèzy highlighted the way BKK Budapest managed to use the potential of Facebook as a tool to communicate. By Facebook BKK connects daily with 30.000 users. Unique is that BKK has received 100.000 likes. Best performed level of posts reached about 650.000 users in Budapest. The bike-sharing programme has some 10.000 followers. The outreach of BKK on Facebook is 1,2 million people and over 1 million use FB on their mobile apps. Good data coverage. The total cost is limited to only € 10.000,—. BKK concentrates on Facebook for communication of daily traffic updates, extraordinary situations, transport service, planned service changes and traffic alerts. Also it is used for public consultation and building the authority’s image. “We inform passengers how to avoid traffic problems.

”The litmus test for Facebook in Budapest was during the floodings in the beginning of 2012. Actions and communication lead to 3500 new followers. This action makes BKK strong in mastering crisis situations. The key factor for success in Budapest is “virality”. The presentation of David is available here


The meeting programme ended with a visit to Stratford Interchange, a multimodal transport hub which incorporates a bus station, two Underground lines, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground and a number of other suburban rail services.

On the doorstep of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford is only a short DLR right away from the Emirates Air Line cable car. Crossing the River Thames opposite the O2, the Emirate Air Line provides a unique view on the capital’s most iconic buildings and landmarks.

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Stratford Interchange
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Stratford interchange Bus station
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Stratford Interchange gate line
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A Central line train at Stratford
  • Updated : January 28, 2015

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