ERTICO: Can you describe the activities of Cubic Transportation Systems in ITS?

Martin Howell: Cubic Transportation Systems is the leading integrator of payment information technology and services for intelligent travel solutions.

Although we have a revenue collection heritage going back nearly 40 years we recognise that the world is now changing faster than ever before. The global population is growing at a tremendous rate metropolitan and suburban areas are ‘morphing’ into mega-cities reducing the distance between those cities towns and commercial and industrial districts. As a global population we’re all increasingly aware of the environmental impact of our journey choices and the need to change our behaviour. All of these factors equal more transport journeys and a need to consider how each of us will go about our journeys in the future.  In response to this Cubic has devised a vision for how to help keep the world on the move into this evolving future which we call Nextcity. Nextcity articulates our view of how the ITS of the future will work based on our experience with some of the world’s largest cities. Nextcity envisions a fully-integrated whole of transport journey and payments management systems – it is aimed not only towards transport operators but also regional transport planners who manage demand across the infrastructure of whole cities or regions. It aims to help them to regulate demand by setting fees across all modes of transport within a region as well as empowering their customers with targeted precise information to manage how they travel.  It will maximise the benefit of truly real-time traveller information – mobile apps message signs tolling and usage charging parking accounts journey planning systems – all these and more have a part to play but need to be integrated within an over-arching plan.

Today a person’s journey choice is likely to be influenced by three factors: the overall cost the timeliness and the reliability of the mode of transport. And increasingly as societies we are adding a fourth dimension: the environmental impact. If transport stakeholders can understand at a macro and micro level which factors are most prevalent in causing congestion points and bottlenecks in their cities they can take appropriate action to vary these factors to influence demand and therefore maximise supply. Well planned and managed networks using all the available and emerging technologies will deliver a positive impact on all four of these critical deciding factors.

To achieve this they will require more dynamic systems and attempts are already being made to address this. In public transport operators have attempted to level demand using peak and off-peak fares. In private transport modes particularly motor vehicles regulators have tried to manage demand by increasing parking costs introducing toll systems and latterly variable tolls with congestion charging being the most recent method of demand management. These solutions are playing an important role – but to be effective the whole-of-transport must be integrated.

Our experience in delivering ground-breaking systems gives us the advantage of already having taken the first major steps towards true integration in cities as diverse as London and Chicago.  We definitely see ERTICO as an organisation within which we can forge relationships to progress this vision.

ERTICO: Why have you joined ERTICO – ITS Europe? What are your expectations for this partnership?

Martin Howell: Operating as we do in several regions across Europe we see ERTICO as a great forum to exchange ideas to stimulate debate and to influence thinking which will go into funding allocation and policy formation. It is where many of Europe’s great cities come to find out from each other and from their potential partners what might be possible. We certainly believe that ITS has a massive role to play in reducing the environmental impact of all forms of travel and have many ideas and plans that can help that to become real. And ERTICO is where much of the thinking about funding and sensible allocation of public money is done as cities and regions work to balance citizen need economic demands and environmental goals. Our expectation in joining ERTICO is that we can learn much from that debate can bring our global experience to inform it wherever possible and perhaps most importantly we hope we can learn from the diverse membership what they see as possible what they want to achieve and how they think it can be done.

ERTICO: Are there any projects activities or sectors within the ERTICO Partnership you are particularly interested in?

Martin Howell: I think we will learn much more as we become more fully involved and represented.  But already I have been amazed by how aligned ERTICO is with what we believe the future holds – in AFC in mobility in NFC in tolling and in pan-European interoperability.  I look forward to taking part.  In fact perhaps I should buy a Eurostar season ticket!

ERTICO: What do you imagine cities will look like in terms of Mobility in 10 years time? 

Martin Howell: There will certainly be progress towards truly integrated transport systems. In Europe our transport systems have in many cases been in place for a long time and building new infrastructure is not easy – either economically or geographically. For that and other reasons I have a feeling that progress will not be as momentous as it could be in the short term.

Technical developments (brilliant apps broader bandwidth speed of communications and speed of data crunching to name just a few) are continuing apace but their implementation in many cities is piecemeal and fragmented.  I think many in the industry can see opportunities that now exist but are frustrated that political economic or regulatory influences and barriers are leading operators and authorities to think maybe too timidly and narrowly. 
However with the aid of forward thinking policy makers and suppliers perhaps some places will be there – Chicago London and Vancouver are all on a path to true integration. These cities will be the models for others to follow.  There are huge opportunities and equally big challenges – I hope that with the industry working with governments through forums such as ERTICO we can help to overcome those challenges and see real change being effected.

ERTICO: What do you think is missing in the development technical or political of ITS today to change the mobility of both people and goods to meet the scenario you described above?

Martin Howell: The creativity is there without a doubt. The technology to achieve true integration is already there and in many cases well-proven. And the public acceptance of the use of technology in making these changes in our lives is also growing thanks to the ubiquity of powerful smartphones. What needs to change is that bold decisions have to be made in the interests of the longer-term. These must be made by national governments and regional transport planners informed by the proven experience of the leading integrators and technology providers.

It would be great to see an increasing shift to integrated regional planning where an overview is taken to encompass both public transport and road policy by a single planning authority – such as you already see in Sydney San Francisco or London. Change is never easy and more proving and debate will undoubtedly be needed but ERTICO is definitely a great facilitator for those discussions to take place.

About Cubic Transportation Systems

Cubic provides integrated solutions which help transport operators manage their operations and services and give their passengers real choices in the smartest and easiest ways to pay their fares.  Cubic delivers total solutions incorporating design development manufacturing supply installation integration services and information. Our services include on-site management central systems operations support user support business support and field services.

Every year over 10 billion journeys are taken worldwide using Cubic payment and information systems. Cubic has delivered over 400 projects in 40 major markets on five continents. Active projects include London; Brisbane (Southeast Queensland) region Australia; New York/New Jersey region; Washington D.C /Baltimore/Virginia region; Los Angeles region; San Diego region; San Francisco region; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Chicago; Atlanta region; Miami (South Florida) region; Vancouver and Edmonton Canada; Sydney (New South Wales) Australia; and Scandinavia.

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Original Publication Date: Tue 18 Sep 2012