The Future of Public Transport and Technology

The concept of rail travel has evolved over centuries, repeatedly bringing people and places closer than ever before. Nick Tasker, Head of Mobility at Worldline UK&I embarked on a remarkable journey across Europe with his family, armed with a month-long Eurail pass, rekindling his youthful passion for Interrail.

Mobility in Europe

Nick is passionate about rail and mobility, striving to create innovative solutions to support customer needs in the areas of digitisation and mobility. Daily, Nick works with regional authorities and transport operators to develop solutions that drive social and economic mobility for all. 

During his Interrail adventure, Nick and his family traversed through captivating destinations such as Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, and more. This journey allowed them to gain firsthand experience with various mobility apps and some might say, engage in a research project!

We had the privilege of following Nick's European expedition and had the opportunity to sit down with him for an interview to learn more about his enriching experiences.

What inspired you to work in mobility and public transport at Worldline?

My background was originally in IT, more specifically on IT outsourcing in a sales capacity. What attracted me to Worldline was how the business focus was less on the service offering and more on the end user and how technology could improve the travelling experience. This was almost 10 years ago, roughly when the transport industry began focusing not just on its operations, but more on the customer, so it was a fascinating time join.

In your opinion, what's the most exciting recent development in MaaS?

The Future Mobility Zones funding is the most interesting MaaS development in the UK, providing an enabler to fund such things as MaaS apps that integrate buses, trains, trams, taxis, bikes and e-scooters all into one journey powered by a single platform. Introducing new mobility solutions to various regions within our country will not only improve communities, helping people to access employment, education and healthcare, but also allow the UK to catch up with other parts of the world where these types of mobility solutions are already more highly developed.

What is the transport industry doing well? And what could it be doing better?

There are several initiatives that can be applauded, such as the introduction of micro mobility schemes such as e-bikes and e-scooters in a number of councils across the UK. Ultimately, when it comes to public transport services, it’s all about how easily accessible they are for the end user. Right now, I’d say we’re still at that stage where most users need to make the effort to look up and research these services, as opposed to them being obviously presented and readily available. Also, planning travel and purchasing tickets are not yet integrated into a streamlined user experience, and which still feels disjointed here in the UK, when compared to neighbouring countries, or other parts of the world.

What role do you see technology playing in improving the customer experience for transport and mobility in the near future?

An app that is able to bring planning and paying for travel into one place would make public transport as well as other mobility services so much more appealing for the consumer. A really interesting example highlighted recently is the online payment platform Alipay in China which consolidates a whole range of travel and other goods and services into a single user experience via its SuperApp, so we already know it can be done.

Can you share a personal anecdote about a memorable public transport experience that made you appreciate the importance of convenient and reliable transportation?

This summer I went inter-railing with my family across Europe. It was a route I’d done 30 years ago: London, Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Milan and back. Except this time, I got to plan most of the journey and accommodation using my mobile phone with the help of the local public transport apps, which obviously wasn’t a luxury I had back in the ‘90s. It was quite the experience to be able to compare so many different transport networks and services back-to-back, over a short period of time – by the end of the trip I’d downloaded at least a dozen apps! The real time information in those apps really helps provide confidence in the reliability of the transport services and improve the feeling of convenience.

What’s your favourite mode of public transport and why?

Lately I've been whizzing around on e-scooters and it's been quite fun getting used to them. I particularly liked using them in Liverpool, where there is a dedicated cycle path for them close to Albert Dock and they’re great for getting around town. The Elizabeth Line on the London Underground is also hard to beat with its modern design blended with old London architecture.

What city do you think has the best public transport and why?

Berlin, hands down. There are just so many different ways to for travelling from A to B, and the architecture of some of the stations is simply gorgeous to look at. I’d honestly be happy to spend the day just going around the city on the S-Bahn, because you could get all your sightseeing done from the train. The Vienna Tram comes a close second with its “ring-road” around the centre of town. As for the UK, I should mention I recently have been travelling on the Nottingham Tram more, which takes you right through the heart of the city. We should have more Trams in the UK!

If you could offer one piece of advice to public transport operators and passengers, what would it be, based on your expertise in the field?

Work together. If operators, service providers and local councils aren’t aligned in their plans, then customers are always going to get a disjointed experience. Not being able or not knowing how to plan and purchase your travel is enough to put some people off from using their local bus, train or tram service.  We all need to find a way to make public transport more attractive.