Could the transport model of the future be led by the taxi industry?

We have been pondering how technology could revolutionise privately-owned vehicles in years to come. But we might also ask what will happen to the rest of the industry and more importantly how will Australian small businesses reap the benefits of this transport transformation.

A recent report shows that 74 per cent of Australian small businesses are unprepared for the changes that will affect Australia’s sharing economy, which heavily involves transport. This is where the concept of Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS) will come into its own. It’s a model that encompasses all transport, the future of which will enable convenience, flexibility and affordability when travelling. Users will be able to access a single mobility service on demand – and view such details as journey times and the cost of their whole trip via one integrated app. From being picked up by an automated vehicle at home, to getting dropped off at the train station, then jumping on a bus in town, connected services will enable people to get from the start to the end of their journey seamlessly.

This presents a unique opportunity for Australian small businesses in the transport industry to get onboard and be a part of this connected ecosystem. That’s the intention. The question is, how are we going to reach this point?

The first steps are in place

To a certain extent, the groundwork for this future “as-a-service” model has already been laid down. Today’s ride-sharing services offer the public a convenient and affordable alternative to driving their own vehicle. And technology enhances our experience in scheduling and fulfilling these journeys – in many cases, you can log into an app to check journey times or see where the nearest vehicle is.

We’ve embraced these newer ways of getting around, and we’re only going to see more of these on-demand services. Take for example, the recent trial of a driverless bus by a UK operator, Stagecoach – this highlights the gradual shift we’re making towards a TaaS run future. But we’ll need to continue building connections between all modes of travel to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Taxi technology is enabling collaboration

For this complex future model to work smoothly, all elements of the transport network will need to come together and work in sync. Integrating multiple transport options in such a way will make it easier for the consumer to get from A to B. We’ll be able to see everything in one place, and pay for an entire journey in one app.

With automated booking and dispatch systems, taxi firms can work in tandem with car rental companies and car sharing services to keep costs and time down.

Taxi firms hold valuable data

Smaller Australian taxi firms need to recognise that the TaaS network of the future will rely heavily on how organisations use our data.

We’ll need up-to-date information on vehicle locations and public transport for trips to run smoothly. Not only that, personal preferences will need to be communicated between individuals and transport providers, so that they are offered the best possible solution for their journey. We’ll need to know where users are going, and how often. Sharing information will therefore become essential for journey planning.

With the vast amount of information they hold on individual trips, taxis are an excellent source of data for smart city planners who are preparing for the future transport infrastructure. Every day, taxis are making millions of journeys, each one personalised for each customer.

Safa Alkateb, CEO, Autocab

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