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If travelling within Germany, the long-distance bus should be shortlisted from an environmental point of view. The long-distance bus service performs best in all environmental key figures as a quick analysis by the German IFEU, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, shows. The reason for this is the modern vehicle fleet and the high average utilization. The study was presented on 26 October in Berlin by the German Association of Bus Operators (BDO).
The keynote-speaker at the first UITP Busworld conference, held in the second half of this years Busworld, was Alok Jain. He is the managing director of Trans-Consult Asia Ltd based in Hong Kong and with offices in India. One remark in his speech was instantly put on Twitter by many of those attending this conference: “A passenger has a face, a journey doesn't”. In a nutshell it summarized the idea in his speech to change public transport from a technical system to a human scale. “Mobliity is about moving people and not about movement of cars”.
“We are at the beginning of a major transformation of our industry. Our minds maybe full of questions and doubts, but one thing we are sure of: tomorrows world is going to be completely different from today. Technology development in and outside our industry will force us to change our work paterns, workforce participation, laws and regulations and much more.” He revealed that he as a child was fascinated by buses and trains and that he until now – like many of us probably - still collect models of trains and buses. Jain took his audience to his childhood, a time were a bus driver was a well respected member of society. “He was trusted and knowledgeable. But over time it became fashionable to have your own car. Infrastructure was build by cities to accommodate these cars, only to realize that you can not build enough to solve this problem. We ended up making a mess of our urban environment. Today we realize our mistakes and most urban cities want to restrict private cars in one form or another. One fundamental question then remains: does public transport has a future? Or will it as we know it today be pushed into oblivion?” He answered his question by saying that this is not likely to happen. “As long as we are building our urban areas as we are doing it will be mathematically and physiclie impossible to accommodate the footprint of humanity on cars.”
It is about moving people
“ Can you imagine achieving a capacity of 30.000 to 50.000 passengers per direction per hour in any urban corridor? The invention of the car should have given a new meaning to the human mobility. And look where we stand today: bumper to bumper in trafic congestion. In all the cities where private transport have dominance almost eighty percent of the cars on the road are trying to move twenty percent of the passengers. In the morning peak in one of the busiest tunnels of Hong Kong ten percent of the buses move eight percent of the passengers through that tunnel! Mobliity is about moving people and not about movement of cars.”
“ Is public Transport a public necessity or a social responsibility? Can buses compete on a commercial bases with other modes of transport? In most cities millions of customers spend on average over thirty minutes sitting in a bus every day. Try to name one mall or one urban centre in your city which can be as attractive to as many people?” With this comparison Jain showed the importance of the bus in relation to the image it has. Also he showed with an example that the marketing of the bus is not very sufficient. “When I want to open a restaurant or store in a nice place for it can be best near a bus or train station. The rent will be higher.But the public transport who is delivering my customers and creates value around the world, has to struggle with cost coverage and financial assistance. Can this not change? Can public transport not become 'fulfilment centres'? I firmly believe this can and will change! In Hong-Kong we can. As it is that I live there I am very proud to say that every operator in Hong-Kong is profitable and operates without any subsidy from the government.”
Jain stated that introducing, collecting and using data, whether it concerns passenger needs,predictive maintenance, optimization through telematics and GPS for better fleetmanagement, can ad twenty to thirty percent to the topline and cut twenty to thirty percent in costs. It can make most of the bus companies around the world profitable. In Hong-Kong in 2012 one the operators was making a loss of approximately 200 million Hong-Kong dollars. It decided to turn around the business. Four years later in 2016 it reported a profit of 700 million Hong-Kong dollars. A big part of this was related to the oil prices, but benefits to new data driven strategies was significant. We installed telematics on all 4000 buses of the fleet and optimized the routes. We managed to decrease seven percent in bus miles without losing any passenger. Instead the number of passengers increased with five percent. Service reliability was raised from 76 percent to 95 percent in four years. The newly developed passenger app was downloaded three million times and recorded one million hits per day, in a city of 7,3 million people.Most of the markets reports passenger journeys per day. But we did not carry just 2,8 million passenger journeys per day. We have to change that mindset: 'A passenger has a face a journey doesn't'. In Hong-Kong instead of the 2,8 million passenger journeys, we carry 5,5 million unique customers per month.”
“With the right use of technology at our hand we have the ability to make public transport appealing to all segments of society. Why would anybody want to drive a car when you can be driven in a shorter time in a nice bus where you can work, read or do what ever you like?” It was probably the topic at Busworld: electrificationof the bus. Jain remembered us of developments in the other parts of the world then Europe. “China, a billion people market, operates 98 percent of the world's electric buses. In Shenzhen 5700 electric buses are in operation. They are operated by state-of-the-art operating centres collecting data to optimize the performance. China needs an average of 120.000 buses a year just as replacement. And ad India to this, another billion people market. India also wants to go electric. Africa has no legacy to fall back on, it is open. You can go there with completely new systems. Europe has taken an ideological lead by putting laws and funding mechanism's.Many European countries have adopted zero emission strategies. Challenges however remain to the source of power generated, distribution and charging facilities. The future appears to be electric. Technology will soon make it possible to also have electric inter-urban buses. I have no doubt that public transport will have a very bright future.”
Over fifty European cities, fifteen manufacturers and the same amount of transport organizations have joined the European Clean Bus deployment Initiative. Through their combined effort these participants who have signed the 'Declaration of intent on promoting large-scale deployment of clean, alternatively fuelled buses in Europe' are committed to make this energy transition happen.
As expected, global bus sales declined ~14% YoY in the first quarter of 2017. Much of this decline can be attributed to China and India, following the introduction of more stringent emission standards in early 2017. Also noteworthy, bus and coach sales in Brazil and Eastern Europe fell ~34% and ~9% YoY in Q1, respectively. By contrast, the Triad economies of Western Europe, North America and Japan have started the year strongly, and there was a robust outturn from Argentina and South Korea.