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Towards a pan-European information system

UITP (International Association of Public Transport) secretary general Alain Flausch spoke to RTM about the aspiration for a single, inter-operable ticketing and information system across European public transport.


he International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is campaigning for cities

to ‘Grow with Public Transport’, an initiative aimed at doubling the market share of public transport by 2025. One way to incentivise this growth is by integrating the data and ticketing in use throughout the different countries of Europe.

It sounds ambitious, but the benefi ts that could be reaped through a single public transport IT system would be incredible: lower costs, better- informed planning and reactions to disruption, as well as happier passengers and greater demand.

RTM talked to UITP secretary general

Alain Flausch about the 2025 vision, and how information systems could provide the backbone to European transport integration.

He said: “For years there have been attempts by the IT industry to try to build a huge platform where all public transport operators could be connected on a national basis. It was very ambitious.

“It sounds pretty rational and like common sense, but it’s extremely diffi cult in our industry – where you have so many different operators – to standardise things in such a way that you could build that platform.”


Some may think it a crazy idea, and obviously it would be out of the realms of probability to scrap all existing platforms and replace them with a single super-connected system. So UITP has suggested a bottom-up approach, where the current systems could be connected together, with open communication channels that would allow a user to travel seamlessly

44 | rail technology magazine Dec/Jan 13

that goes together with it, you know that it will be compatible and you will have a standard platform in your bus.

“I think one of the ways to do it in such a scattered industry is to go through standardised interface defi nition: but that’s a long way away. Hopefully not too long, but we have to evolve the mobile industry and this is the challenge for

between European countries.

Flausch explained: “All the cities have a smartcard system on a large or a smaller scale and we cannot dump them just for the sake of introducing a new one. So it’s more of a practical approach, saying we have existing systems, each on its own time schedule, to be replaced eventually at different times in fi ve, ten or fi fteen years. But in the meantime, if we want to go fast let’s just develop a standardised interface that allows the systems to speak to each other.”

He admitted that the task was challenging, but added: “At least it would be easier than it would be to build this huge machine [from scratch]. It’s very diffi cult. Once you have a standard then the whole industry will stick to it and then as a manufacturer, as an operator, when you’re buying a bus system and the equipment

Europe.” Offering an alternative

Support from the industry on this topic is growing, he said, with interest from developers much higher, as well as a high demand from the public.

“Today they are at a level where they are looking for more development and we [public transport] are now interesting to them, so today the industry tells us that they wish to participate, to invest so that they could, to some extent, grab a part of this business.”

This new groundswell is a step in the right direction, Flausch noted, and he praised work in London that was already providing “excellent” models for intermodality. “In London I think it’s fantastic, the job that was done – compared to what the Tube was like seven years ago, and with the Olympics.

“Things are improving, they are much better than they used to be – when it was an unreliable way of being transported.”

He added: “If you want seamless travel, you cannot push people out of their cars without offering them an alternative. It makes it diffi cult if you step off the train and then have to look for your bus stop – if you don’t fi nd it, you’re losing time, the bus leaves and so on.

“If you want it to be effi cient then you need integrated ticketing: you only buy one and that’s it, easy. Whenever you have to change the mode of transportation it must be easy, clear, the signage must be effi cient, you don’t waste your time trying to fi nd the bus: all this is a contribution to make it easier and to market share in the future.”

© oxyman

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