NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance is calling on developers and technologists to come up with ways the state government could enable “on demand” commuter buses that respond in real time to changes in passenger needs.
Constance today announced plans to open a formal expression of interest process next month to gather ideas ahead of a trial of the new bus technology to take place before the end of 2017.
“Imagine a NSW where you don’t need to check the timetable because the right numbers of trains, buses or ferries arrive when and where they need to,” he said.
“We have Netflix, Stan, and Foxtel to give us movies on demand – so why can’t we have our public transport respond to where people are and what they want?”
Transport for NSW is looking for a solution that can enable a flexible, real-time alternative to static bus timetabling that responds to changes in transport circumstances like passenger volumes, special events and weather, and allocates services to routes accordingly.
The minister cited examples like putting on extra trains when wet weather is forecast, or allocating more buses to and from a sporting team's home suburb when they have an away match. The trial could also see flexible special bus services added to routes to pick up passengers where overflow demand is identified.
But he said the government would not put restrictions around the EOI process.
“We want the biggest ideas from the best minds in innovation and technology to get cracking on this – they know better than the government does, and I don’t want to restrict their imagination,” Constance said.
Next year is already gearing up to be a big 12 months for the Transport department.
The state is expected to start trialling contactless credit card and mobile-phone based fare payments in place of Opal cards on the public transport network, and it will push ahead with new additions to its suite of digital licences, even though digital driver’s licenses aren’t expected to materialise until 2018.