Making a Connection

21 / 02 / 2024

In this edition of Making a Connection, we speak to Asiya Jelani, Director of Sales at Worldline and an expert in mobility and transport. She shares her insights on the exciting developments in Mobility as a Service, gender imbalance in the transport industry, and the future of public transport technology

4 min.


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

I’ve spent over 20 years in the field of mobility and transport, and have always been interested in the role technology plays in giving people the independence and autonomy to plan and book their transport in a way that helps them lead fulfilling lives. What’s more, it gives planners and operators the data with which to design and develop better services. I saw how critical Worldline’s tech is to rail and was excited about the potential it has for wider transport and mobility modes.

In your opinion, what's the most exciting recent development in Mobility as a Service?

For me, what we are developing with the West of England Combined Authority is hugely exciting, it is the first truly integrated MaaS platform in the UK that gives people the autonomy to plan, book and pay for their transport in a seamless way through one single app. It also provides peace of mind that data is safe and offers operators a secure, accurate and trackable way to ensure the monies are settled and apportioned correctly, by mode.

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

I have had the pleasure of working with so many people who are truly passionate about transport. It is an exciting and diverse career path and gives a strong sense of purpose for many.  I have spent over 8 years working with Women in Transport on trying to support the industry and individual women to redress the gender imbalance that still exists today. Currently, women make up 47% of the UK workforce, yet only 20% of the transport workforce. The divide is even starker when you break the data down further into levels of seniority and types of roles.  We must go faster on this agenda to truly design and plan services that reflect the people we carry on our networks.  We also have a unique opportunity to ensure the safety of women and girls when they are on public transport. There are some great initiatives happening that help this whole agenda, but we need to do more.

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

Payments – seamless, frictionless, secure and in a way that makes transport accessible for more people and doesn’t leave anyone behind (the unbanked, cash workers, night-time, and shift workers etc.) and helps businesses recruit, retain skills, and reduce their carbon footprint.

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

My world and opportunities as a professional woman are open to me because of the public transport that exists in our country.  I live in Manchester and can be in London in under two hours.  I have days where I would not be able to do what I do if it wasn’t there and so I appreciate it every day!

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

I am torn on this one – I would have to say the bus. At almost 3 billion journeys per annum, it’s still one of the most underrated, under-invested and under-appreciated modes of transport, despite being a lifeline to many in our society.  But I am also a secret fan of the tram or metro, it is in my view one of the most satisfying ways to travel around cities and urban areas.

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

I would have to say London first and foremost – many modes and options, easy to plan, easy to pay and technologically enabled. But there are other great cities with accessible public transport, such as Lyon in France. I recently travelled there and as a woman, travelling alone in a new city, I couldn’t be more impressed with how safe I felt and how efficient the transportation was. It was truly seamless, I even paid for all my transport via my phone instead of having to convert cash and carry it around with me – I just tapped and paid!

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?

Operators – talk openly to the market and suppliers about what challenges you face and where you want and need to improve for passengers. They are motivated to help solve these problems and have the people who can put their creative brains to these problems, it’s what we do every day – don’t allow yourselves to be constrained by process.

I don’t think it’s our job as transport professionals to advise passengers, our job is to listen to them and understand their needs and wants and deliver world-class solutions to meet them.

You’ll be welcoming the Women in Transport panel at Transport Ticketing Global this year – what can visitors expect to hear?

Yes, after being a panellist on last year’s Women in Transport panel, I am very excited to be back, welcoming visitors to the conference – a great testament to the importance of Transport Ticketing Global is placing on the issue of gender parity. The theme I will be focusing on is shaping the future through individual action – as for the rest, you’ll have to wait and see! 

Asiya Jelani

Director of Sales, Worldline