From taxis and buses to e-bikes and trains, people up and down the UK heavily rely on transport every day. And while the pandemic certainly presented its challenges to the industry, it also opened up new opportunities for our transport links to be improved. In 2021, we saw huge innovation happen, with the likes of accelerated city transport schemes, enhanced passenger accessibility and emission reducing initiatives. And 2022 is set to be even bigger. But what progress will we see this year in the world of public transport?
Something that’s at the forefront of our own Zipabout platform, hyper-personalisation is the process of using data in order to deliver a more tailored user experience. With it, businesses are able to use omnichannel data to create personalised customer journeys in real-time. This level of personalisation will become the industry standard in aiding consumers, offering them more informed travel options depending on their unique personal preferences.
2. RCS taking over SMS
Alongside the acceleration of hyper-personalisation, RCS is set to take a leading role in the landscape of public transport in 2022. Previously heralded as a primary tool for social media, FinTech and telecommunications companies are now taking bigger ownership of consumer messaging. While phone network markets have all but disappeared, the rise of RCS signals the beginning of telecoms rallying over the social messaging we’ve become accustomed to. This means that many transport operators will introduce RCS communications alongside their existing messaging services, eventually replacing the ‘old school’ SMS system.
3. Bicycle safety schemes accelerated
It goes without saying that people are becoming eco-conscious and reflecting more frequently on how their travel choices are impacting the planet. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the UK experienced a ‘bike boom’ as the use of city bikes and personal bicycles increased massively. This proved that passengers were exploring new avenues for public transport, and the use of bicycles and e-bikes in major UK cities has certainly not slowed down since then. As a result of this, bicycle and pedestrian safety programs are likely to be accelerated in 2022, with the two modes of transport taking higher precedent over road traffic.
4. The growth of electric
Trailing alongside the bike boom is the nonstop growth of e-vehicles. As the UK continues to tackle Co2 emissions and reduce the pollution that public transport produces, electric transit vehicles will become major stars in the industry. With the UK government introducing schemes to ‘Build Back Better’ following the pandemic, grants for electric cars, taxis, vans and buses have become available UK-wide, as well as the grants for domestic, workplace and on-street charge points.
5. Increased native advertising
With any journey planner or online transport platform comes ads. But (thankfully) the days of unwanted pop ups and intrusive ads might be coming to an end. Native Adverts seamlessly match the look, feel, and function of the media format in which they appear. These ads are experts are avoiding that all too familiar ‘traditional’ ad format because they don’t disrupt the consumer experience or interrupt the user journey at any stage. This is particularly important for passenger personalisation, allowing transport operators to target users with rich content that genuinely changes their journey for the better.
6. Data tracking & passenger privacy
As more platforms go digital, it’s inevitable that web tracking and holding customer data will continue to be standard practice. But it doesn’t need to be. As consumers become increasingly savvy to their personal privacy, more businesses are switching on to a new wave of user tracking and only holding data that is wholly relevant to their platform. For example, an online journey planner doesn’t need the name or the personal details of a passenger; just where they’re travelling to and from. With this in mind, it’s entirely possible for digital apps and platforms to offer their services to customers without tracking their location or personal data (and it’s much more ethical, too!)
7. Eco-systems over apps
We know that mobile apps are still as central to our lives as ever, but online digital platforms that integrate with existing channels are providing a more social-economic approach to improving public transport. We know the last thing most passengers want to do to plan their journey or look for alternative transport options is download yet another app. That’s why it’s crucial to offer simple, tailored solutions that are truly valued. This approach also works to analyse demand and connect cities with irregular transit routes, which in turn connects rural with urban – something that proves to be more important than ever as we urge people to consider using public transport more.
8. Micro-mobility taking centre stage
A fairly predictable trend continuing into 2022 is the rise of micro-mobility. In 2021, we saw e-scooter schemes popping up in more UK cities – and the e-travel surge isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. While personal use of e-bikes and scooters has taken the leading role in micro-mobility up to now, it’s predicted that new initiatives will soon begin sprouting up that will take it to the next level. From hotels introducing private mobility fleets and scooter sharing schemes to the idea of 15-minute cities with instant home deliveries and commercialised errands, micro-mobility is set to change public transport in big ways.
And there you have it – a brief glimpse into what is shaping up to be a huge year for public transport in the UK. At Zipabout, we like to think we’re ahead of the curve. We’ve already introduced elements of most of the above trends to our platform, such as micro-mobility transport options, ethical user tracking, native advertising and enhanced personalisation. But what’s in store for us this year? Watch this space!