Research has uncovered widespread support for investment in 5G networks and smart city services to boost rail users’ safety and connectivity.
Real-time service information, personalised updates, reduced commuting times, improved safety in public spaces and access to reliable wireless networks are drivers of increased rail use.
Four in five rail users (81 per cent) are at least somewhat comfortable with their anonymised data being used to improve transport systems.
Research suggests that advanced mobile networks and smart technology will be critical factors in restoring commuter confidence in public transport use in the post-pandemic world.
Survey respondents believe 5G has the potential to improve the commuting experience from both a user and transport service perspective.
BAI Communications, published a report revealing current widespread support and a growing demand among rail users for transport authorities and operators to invest in 5G networks to enable smart city services that help them stay safe and connected.
The 2020 Connectivity outlook report by BAI Communications highlights the opinions and attitudes of rail users around the world regarding mobile connectivity, smart city infrastructure and data-driven services in public transport. It is informed by a recent global study commissioned by BAI, which surveyed over 2,400 rail users across five cities: Hong Kong, London, New York, Sydney, and Toronto.
BAI’s report is designed to help cities and governments understand the changing needs of rail users and the services that are valuable to them today.
Rail users want to see advancements in infrastructure. According to the survey, 91 per cent of current rail users say they would support government authorities investing in new and reliable wireless and fibre networks and 83 per cent say they support their city investing in 5G.
Attitudes towards the use of public transport are also influenced by technology investment. According to BAI’s findings, 95 per cent of rail users are more likely to use the rail network in their city if technology-driven solutions were implemented. In addition, 9 out of 10 (89 per cent) rail users think the government should consider how networks and digital connectivity can be used to redesign public spaces to make them safer and more accessible.
These findings suggest that citizens in the five cities covered in the global survey understand that advanced mobile networks provide benefits at both an individual level and to the broader public.
Leveraging rail users’ data to create transport efficiencies in the age of COVID-19
This study was conducted in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the full impact on public transport remains to be seen, these findings offer valuable insight and direction for transport operators and authorities grappling with the shifting priorities created by the evolving pandemic. Specifically, the need to invest in smart solutions that support connectivity and personalisation while alleviating concerns around public health and safety.
BAI’s findings show that citizens are increasingly understanding the benefits data can offer to enhance transport services in terms of reliability, safety and security. Four in five rail users (81 per cent) are at least somewhat comfortable with their anonymised data being used to improve transport systems, while three quarters (75 per cent) of commuters believe an evolved rail network would provide them with benefits to their wellbeing.
Justin Berger, Chief Strategy Officer, BAI Communications, said: “Our findings highlight the incentives for transport authorities and operators to invest in advanced communications infrastructure and smart city applications to improve rail users’ safety and their commuting experience.
“Citizens certainly expect public services such as transport to adjust to their new usage patterns and changing circumstances in real time, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Advanced communications networks and their applications can help authorities and public transport operators to respond to rail users’ new ways of travelling, working and living in a more efficient way.
“On a positive note, some transport operators are already starting to leverage anonymised mobile data to better understand users’ dynamic behaviour and to respond with different frequencies and availability of trains. Real-time mobile data can also help operators to better estimate platform crowding conditions, improve passenger flow management and to uncover new origin and destination patterns to deliver a service that prioritises safety and wellbeing.
“In this context where social distancing is a key consideration in crowded places, communications infrastructure is essential to the economic recovery of any major city. It is a critical consideration in how we design public spaces and how transport authorities and operators can ensure safe experiences for citizens accessing those spaces.
“COVID-19 has no doubt brought on many challenges. However, it has also revealed the considerable gains of deploying advanced communications infrastructure in transport systems and other public spaces. We believe there is no more pressing time than the present to making truly connected cities a reality.”
Key report findings:
Advanced network infrastructure is the key to a smart city
91 per cent of rail users would support government authorities investing in new and reliable wireless and fibre networks.
85 per cent of rail users are interested in 5G (and 83 per cent support their city investing in a 5G network).
93 per cent of rail users would support transit systems which use connectivity to reduce commute times.
Data-driven services make transportation safer, smarter and more efficient
95 per cent of rail users would be more likely to use the rail network in their city if technology-driven solutions were implemented.
91 per cent of rail users are at least somewhat comfortable with the idea of receiving tailored alerts about problems or delays on their normal route.
Four in five rail users (81 per cent) are at least somewhat comfortable with their anonymised data being used to improve transport systems. It seems anxieties around data collection are receding, as people better understand the benefits on offer.
Connectivity gives citizens control over their time, their work and their wellbeing
4 in 5 workers (78 per cent) would use public transport to get to meetings if they could reliably work on documents as they travel.
9 in 10 commuters (90 per cent) would enjoy the journey more if rail networks evolved using connectivity, data and AI so they could have better services.
89 per cent of rail users think their government should consider how networks and digital connectivity can be used to redesign public spaces to make them safer and more accessible.