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Posted on 16 September 2019

Dominic Jordan, Chief Data Scientist, INRIX

Let's use data to support the most efficient urban travel. 

"In London, we have an amazing public transport system and an extensive road network, all of which we have invested in heavily to make it work – but what we need to do is make our city smarter. Our transport infrastructure is at full capacity – as anyone who gets the tube at rush hour or drives their children to school will attest to. Yet due to London's prosperous nature, more and more people are choosing to live and work in the city – so the pressure continues to build.

We are at an advantage in London as one of the early adopters of open transport data. There are great apps like Citymapper, as well as smartphone bus timetables and public transport maps; but what we don't do is pull this information together into a single picture.

Perhaps the most efficient journey would be to start your commute by driving to public transport, and then picking up a bike on the other end, but unfortunately there's no easy way of working out the most efficient combination.

There are two aspects to creating this solution; the first of which is simply making the technology work so we can provide the information for people to make the right decisions. The second is to do with our attitudes towards certain modes of transport. Demonising private cars is not the answer but as long as they are considered the most frictionless form of travel then they will inevitably dominate.  To persuade people to get out of their cars and on to alternative forms of transport you need to make the experience as seamless as possible, with guaranteed availability, minimal waiting and no specialist equipment.

For example, whilst there is effective, safe cycling infrastructure in the city centre, it is focused on interfacing with mainline public transport destinations in Zone 1. We need to extend this and find a way to incorporate everyday cycling into our wider network, so it can become a viable option wherever you live in Greater London.

Another advantage that London has is that Transport for London control much of the city's public transport, where as many others’ are privately operated. This puts us one step ahead and should make it easier to bring it all together. So, the final step is to think about how we can create a platform which allows for bike hire, car parking, all rail services and any other aspect of transport, which would allow for a seamless single-ticket journey.

If commuters know the total cost of their journey paid upfront with one ticket, which integrates all possible transport options, you will certainly see the pressure beginning to ease on London's civic infrastructure. This is the most important step in helping people make the right decisions about getting where they need to go."

Inrix is a global data company that specialises in connected car services and transportation analytics. Dominic's research and data crunching enables the company to provide solutions for transportation problems around the world.

Find out more about our Campaign for Movement here.