The rapid pace of technological innovation, when coupled with a changing culture and customer expectations, is beginning to bring a wave of changes to the way that both people and goods are transported. Accounting for and adapting to these transportation trends in both agency operations as well as where the rubber meets the road will be an important part of the strategy and planning processes of a national transportation company. Here are five trends to watch.
All of the above.
Rising interest in multimodal transportation, or using several transportation choices for a single journey, is driving a trend toward bringing along a personal mobility device, such as a bike, an electric bike, or an electric scooter or skateboard, in order to travel the first and last mile (and perhaps some in the middle as well). A huge number of new small electric vehicles are hitting the market each month, and transportation customers and clients expect to be able to haul them along with them, which means that adequate storage space needs to be available onboard, and clear policies and guidelines need to be put into place to handle any issues that come up.
There's an app for that.
The current trend of digitalization and hyper-connectedness, along with the increased popularity of alternative transportation businesses such as Uber and Lyft, is giving rise to a desire for on-demand transportation. Perhaps in part because of the so-called sharing economy's reliance on app-based customer and driver interactions, customers are beginning to have expectations of being able to manage everything from their smartphone, and forward-thinking transportation operators are offering more services and information in either an app or on a mobile web page.
A great many transportation options are being offered in electric drive versions, from bikes to motorcycles to cars, and large vehicles are a prime candidate for electrification. Electric city buses are already in operation in a number of different markets, and are proving to be a cost-effective solution due to their decreased maintenance costs, while also providing a near-silent conveyance. Delivery vehicles and utility vehicles are also on the sharp end of electrification, and logistics companies and last-mile hauling firms are exploring the benefits of electric vehicles.
Driving by wire.
Over the next few years, autonomous vehicles may be taking to the roads in cities around the world, and while self-driving personal cars may be seem too futuristic at the moment, there are a number of car and technology companies that are actively developing and investing in. This could bring a shift toward more of the on-demand and shared vehicle trend for personal transportation, but the biggest impact very well could be when autonomous city buses and tractor trailer fleets are ready for prime time.
It's all connected.
The digitalization trend doesn't stop with the customers' or drivers' smartphones, as vehicle manufacturers are putting more connected technology in each new vehicle, some of which will interact with personal devices, and some of which will connect with fleet management and vehicle maintenance software for optimizing a variety of functions. With WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity for customer-facing activities, and GPS tracking, vehicle analytics, and data harvesting for the operators and owners, connected vehicles can offer a number of benefits to all stakeholders.