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Plans to scrap bus and train timetables in New South Wales

Running the trains on time has been shorthand for government efficiency since the early 20th century. Now we are entering an era where timetables might no longer have any use.

New South Wales (NSW) Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Andrew Constance, announced plans for a working trial of on-demand buses and trains by the end of 2017.

The availability of public transport services will be adjusted according to when and where commuters need them. Data on people’s travelling patterns, weather, and special events will be analysed and used to perform real-time public transport planning.

The hope is that it will result in flexible timetables, responsive to customer requirements and reduction in travel delays. Extra trains would be available in the event of rains or additional buses will be deployed from a sports team’s home suburbs to away games.

Mr. Constance called on industry and technology leaders to submit expressions of interest to run the trial. The process of taking in expressions of interest will start from December 2016, and industry is supposed to submit responses by February 2017. Pilot programs are expected to be operational by the end of 2017.

Personalised updates on Twitter

Mr. Constance also announced a partnership with Twitter,  which will soon enable travellers to receive personalised messages through Twitter letting them know about disruptions on the suburban and intercity networks.

To make it personalised, customers will be able to choose which train services they want to receive alerts about and when. It also includes which section of the specific line is relevant to the customer.
A three month pilot will be launched in December. If successful, the service will be extended to buses, ferries and light rail.

These initiatives are part of the NSW Government’s Future Transport Technology Roadmap. In light of uncertainties in the evolution of technology, four possibe future scenarios were sketched out: 1) My (autonomous) car is (still) king -Individual point to point trips in personally owned units ,2) We’re all in this together- Aggregated demand, shared-use and network optimisation, 3) Super-commuting with public, active and shared transport – A lifestyle based on mass transit, flexible and active transport and 4) Why travel so much?- Technology reduces demand for mobility.

Five key strategies have been outlines for dealing with the 4 possible scenarios: 1) Personalise customer interactions, 2) Transform mass transit networks, 3) Foster shared demand-responsive services, 4) Enable connected and automated vehicle platforms and 5) Create intelligent transport networks managed with data. Minister Constance said, ““It’s not just about imagining the future, but shaping it. The Roadmap outlines initiatives we can kick off right now that will help personalise and improve transport for our customers, no matter how technology develops over the next few years.”

Media release, ‘Buses and trains on demand: Turning off timetables’

Media release, ‘Get personal with train disruption twitter’

NSW Government’s Future Transport Technology Roadmap

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