Billions of dollars are wasted each year given the severe road congestions. The only resolution is a reliable, trustworthy, and low cost public transportation.
By: Gady Shlasky
2016 set yet another record for the number of new vehicles on the roads, as millions of new cars made major cities around the world even more congested. The numbers are not even close to improving during the coming years. Along with the population growth, so are the road congestions and overload – getting worse.
These facts will directly impact the ‘duration commuting’ – the time lengths it takes drivers to travel from home to work each day. There are 129 million commuters in the USA alone, Over 75% of them commute alone. The average commuter wasted 42 hours — more than a typical work week — and $960 last year in traffic, according to a recent study from the Auto Insurance Center.
Duration commuting carries a heavy price. By calculating the average working hours, it turns out that billions of dollars are wasted each year while on the roads. Added to that are the indirect costs, not calculated, like health damages given the increased air pollution, accident related costs…etc. Duration commuting also effects the work quality and productivity, as more time is spent driving rather than working. In addition, you can also include the car maintenance and future health risks given the lack in the driver’s physical activity.
The main cause for the increased use in private vehicles is the inefficiency of public transportation around the world. Although during the past several years the bus networks have drastically expanded, including the train layout, many areas still do not benefit from sufficient public transport. Coordination between busses to trains is lacking, and the often delays and cancellations – due to heavy traffic – harm the reliability and trust of the service. This then leaves the public to choose private transport instead, keeping two cars and more per household.
One of public transportation’s main failures is the first and last miles, those connections leading ‘to’ and ‘from’ the main transport method (i.e. train). Many drivers would happily give up driving if they could arrive to these passages through public transportation in a quick, reliable, and simple manner – to and from work.
The solution lays in the adoptions of flexible public transport, where the routes, stops, and schedules are driven by passengers’ demands. This way, a person wishing to travel to work will ‘order’ a ride through a mobile application. A vehicle, adjusted in size, will pick the traveler from home, along with other near-by passengers, to the train station or their first mile station. All this in a low price of a train or bus ticket.
This type of service can only succeed in the condition that the four transportation pillars are present – availability, certainty, reliability, and low cost. Flexible public transport, along with improved fixed routes, will push many drivers to leave their car at home, and possibly even give up the second family car. The road jams will decrease, productivity will grow, and billions of dollars will be saved.
The solution does not require much investment in existing infrastructure upgrades, but rather creative thinking by the decision makers. The sense of national urgency demands courageous choices for the sake of each country’s future transportation and its drivers.
The author is Optibus’ CEO, a company dedicated to developing innovative technological solutions for smarter public transportation.