Transportation is at the cross roads of both air pollution and sustainability topics, and in this post I will look at how a company I met from the Czech Republic is trying to help drive the sustainable transport agenda.
Why is Sustainable Transportation Important?
In a previous post I talked about the impact of poor air quality on all of our health, which I then followed up with an article on what creates some of the more dangerous particulate matter in the air.
Mass transit systems, or public transport, can play a very significant role in reducing the environmental impact of moving us human beings around. By reducing the number of cars on the road not only can you reduce the amount of fuel burned per passenger, but you can also reduce particulate matter contributions from private vehicles, such as wear on roads, tyres and brakes – all of which create various types of ‘dust’, which can be major factors in dangerous air quality.
Sustainable Transport Isn’t Just About Air Quality
In the most recent European Environmental Agency report I could find on the contributing factors to greenhouse gases, in 2019 transportation still contributed 27% of all greenhouse gases. This is up from 2016 by 2.2%, significantly more than 2004’s figure of 23%.
However, what is a real eye opener is the contribution of private vehicles to mass transportation.
That tiny maroon coloured slither is railways, which if you go to the table in the report you will see accounts for only 0.5%, compared to road transportation’s whopping 71.7%! Even if we were to take into consideration the “Other Transportation” sector as well, which could include things like busses, it would rise only to 1%. In the Road transport section, cars alone make up more than 44%.
Sustainable Transportation Hits 6 UN SDGs
The United Nations published a list of (very) high level goals that companies, institutions, governments and individuals should use to measure and improve their impact on the world and all of us. These are known as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or UN SDGs.
Efforts towards sustainable transportation address at least six of these goals;
- Good Health and Well-being
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water (due to the impact of particulate matter in the waterways)
- Life on Land
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
So it would seem that companies helping to move us towards the development and utilisation of sustainable transportation would be in demand. So let’s meet the company I spoke with, Passengera.
Passengera have been providing connectivity, entertainment and information to users of busses, trains, cars, boats and airplanes for more than five years. Their customers are transport operators, and regularly criss-cross Europe, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers.
Passengera’s technology is used to make the passenger’s journey easier, more enjoyable, more memorable and more productive.
From a transport operator point of view, their systems not only allow them to provide a better quality of service to their customers, the passengers, but helps the operator in a whole host of other ways. From service planning, customer services, information provision, customer insight, enhanced customer engagement and touch-points, and of course, sustainability.
Chatbots and Magazines
A chatbot is a computer program that takes part in as real-as-possible conversation with a human. Chatbots are designed to allow us humans to interact with digital services in a natural way, as if chatting with a real person. Chatbots can be as basic as a simple question-and-answer interaction, or a fully-featured digital assistant that uses Artificial Intelligence to learn and evolve how they interact with the person.What is a Chatbot?Whilst I could write about the amazing data analytics they can provide, or the centralised management system that allows transport operators to manage everything in one place, I want to focus on two things: How Passengera can help improve sustainable transportation with chatbot technology and through reduction of paper materials.
Chatbots and Sustainable Transport
From a carbon emissions and global warming point of view, we should all travel on public transport more often than by a private car. But we don’t, why?
From my own point of view, it is often because it is inconvenient and/or complicated because to get from point A to point B I often need to use multiple forms of transport. Added to this, is if I am going somewhere new, I can’t easily find out what to expect when I get there – do I need to book a taxi, or is there a bus stop or tram nearby?
The aim of their chatbot, named “Jane”, is to help passengers better plan their entire trip. So if you need to catch a train for the main part of the journey, how do you get to the train station, and when you arrive, what’s the best way to get from the station to where you need to be? Perhaps you want to know whether to take a lunch on the journey, or is there somewhere along the line that you can get something, even on-board?
Through human-like conversation, Jane helps take away the uncertainty and confusion around planning a journey, and therefore makes it easier for more people to work out how to use public transport more often. The more journeys travelled on less-polluting forms of transport, the better it is for you, me and the planet.
Additionally, Jane can keep in touch with the passenger to alert of any hiccups and check in on progress or other questions the traveller might have.
Of course, from an operator’s point of view, this is a dream. Not only can the chatbot help improve customer satisfaction, but can help attract more customers and extend the life time of the engagement with the customer before and after the journey.
Electronic Communications Reduces Paper – a lot!
The last time you travelled by public transport, did you see how much paper literature there was? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. If you did then can you imagine how many publications, pamphlets, leaflets, flyers, timetables, tickets and posters a transport operator needs to produce? Now try to image that not just on the one train or bus you used, but across the entire fleet! It’s a very significant amount of paper that needs to be created, updated and disposed of.
Of course, maybe you didn’t even notice all of this, then it is even more important because it is totally wasted.
Beyond this, there are other paper-based items that are important to the running of the service that passengers don’t see, but still have to be produced, distributed and disposed of on a regular, if not daily basis.
Passengera’s technology means that transport operators can drastically cut down on their paper usage, delivering more timely updates and informations digitally in real-time. It may sound obvious now I’ve mentioned it, but the cost and environmental implications of switching from paper to digital solutions across a mass transit fleet can be substantial.
Further down the road
Passengera does a lot more than the topics I mentioned above, and some of their work towards connected vehicles is incredibly exciting. If you want to know more about what they do, pop over to their website or watch the video below.
Watch the Passengera Video Below
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