Future-proof your transport operations

February 21, 2020
Chloe Johns


It’s not easy to predict the future.

Technological advancement in the transport industry has been astounding in recent years, so much so that it can feel hard to keep up with. Operators are having to make big decisions about what tech they adopt now, and being forced into making risky predictions about where they think the market is going.  

But what happens if those predictions are wrong?

Which future tech should you choose, and what are its benefits? The risks of getting it wrong are high, and the risks of doing nothing are even higher! Here at UrbanThings, we’ve been talking to transport operators about new technology and their concerns. Here are some  potential future hazards to watch out for:


Danger #1 – Tech Obsolescence

The landscape of technology is constantly changing, and operators will need to be adaptable. That means avoiding systems that are siloed or proprietary. 

  • Embrace account-based ticketing. Customers used to pay in cash. Now, they have smartcards, credit cards, smartphones, and whatever comes next. Operators should focus on account-based platforms that support multiple tokens, not on systems with a single anonymous payment methodology.
  • Avoid vendor-lock in. Payments are usually processed through a third-party. Does your tech support the ability to ‘pick and choose’?   If the payment fees go up, you need to be able to get out. A little investment now could save you a huge bill in the future. 
  • If you’re buying software, watch out for ‘Abandonware’. Smartphones carry an ever-changing operating system that can literally change overnight! It needs to be catered to and supported as the months and years tick by. Make sure your software supplier is obligated to stay on top of upgrades, and that your brand new passenger app isn’t left to rot.


Danger #2 – Losing the customer relationship

Once you’ve given away control of your storefront, it can be very hard to put that genie back into the bottle. Third-party retailers can be a great additional retail channel, but they shouldn’t be a ‘quick fix’ alternative to investing in your own digital channel. If you don’t maintain a relationship with your customers, how are you going to retain their business, or even know who they are anymore?


Danger # 3 – Under-serving passengers

It can be tempting to conclude that, because passengers are using your transport system already, you are completely providing for their needs. 

  • How do you know you are fully serving their journey? 
  • Is there an untapped market for taking these passengers onwards to a neighbouring town? 
  • What happens if one of your competitors realises that before you do?

Good data is central to any scheduling optimisation. In the past, it used to be hard to obtain accurate passenger metrics about network utilisation. Now, we live in an age of unrivalled tech and sensors – from GPS to accelerometers, to Bluetooth beacons, journey planners and account-based ticketing. It’s never been easier to gather this rich passenger data. Operators can use this to optimise routes and retain ridership, and know that they are truly serving their passengers needs.


The way your passengers use your network is ever-changing. The only thing that doesn’t change is the passengers. At UrbanThings, we’ve been working with operators to address these future-proofing pain points through our smart-ticketing platform Ticketless™. It guards against tech obsolescence, helps you retain the customer relationship and gives you the data and tools you need to ensure you’re best serving your passengers.  

To find out how you can future-proof your operations, get in touch with the UrbanThings team, and let’s see who we can work together to provide robust solutions for the future of your business.