Connecting public transport: collaboration is the key

Customers, politicians and transport industry decision makers have often expressed their desire for a system that would allow people to plan their journey on their mobile phones and then book the fastest, most affordable or most eco-friendly connection using a pre-activated ticket that is valid in trains and buses and for car-sharing services. The recently published roadmap for the digital connectivity of public transport in Germany places this goal within reach.

Picture it: You are enjoying a relaxed day along the Rhine in southern Cologne, but you still need to pick up your aunt at the airport in Düsseldorf today. Your smartphone tells you it is time to get moving. You jump on your hire bike and pedal along the Rhine to Cologne’s central station, where you arrive in no time flat to take a local train to Düsseldorf Airport. Since you still don’t know how much luggage your aunt has with her, you leave your options for the trip home open. Either you’ll take the train back and add your aunt to your ticket or you’ll pick up a car-sharing vehicle at the airport. Your chip card or smartphone is all you need to unlock the hire bike, open the car or provide proof of purchase on the train. As a passenger, you don’t care that your journey involves several transport providers and two separate regions. And why should you!

Passengers want easy access to a mix of different transport options to get them from A to B with their modes of transportation and providers of choice. They need an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use product that connects all mobility services. In this era of digitalisation, they have often been promised such solutions – the app that can do it all. But the truth is that each app can only do so much. There is no common foundation for real connectivity. In other words, there are no common interfaces and rules.

It quickly becomes apparent here that the digital transformation of mobility cannot be mastered by a single industry alone. Instead, achieving this goal will require a united effort by players from a wide range of industries. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur – BMVI) launched a stakeholder dialogue on digital connectivity in public transport involving representatives of state transport ministries, municipal umbrella organisations and industry, transport and passenger associations in mid-2015.

In this context, the partners took stock of the latest developments and identified potential ways of realistically promoting the goal of digitally connecting public transport. Special attention was paid to analysing the measures necessary to enable the national digital connectivity of the transport industry and make the scenario described above a reality. The result is the roadmap for the digital connectivity of public transport in Germany, which was approved unanimously by all partners and is now set to serve as a guideline for the development and funding of existing and new public transport infrastructure.

(((eTicket Deutschland and IPSI, the platform for connecting existing mobile ticketing systems, play an important role in the digital transformation. According to the roadmap, the full compatibility of all e-ticket systems in Germany on the basis of the VDV Core Application is set to become reality by 2020. Another major development scheduled for implementation in the years ahead is the integration of NFC-enabled smartphones into existing public transport infrastructure to allow them to be used both as an e-ticket, like a chip card, or as passengers’ personal connected ticket machines.

Find out more about the new BMVI roadmap at http://mobilitaet21.de/eticket-deutschland/

Download the roadmap for the digital connectivity of public transport in Germany in PDF form at http://mobilitaet21.de/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Roadmap_DVOEP_2016-08-03.pdf