Regulating transportation is a heavy task blending statute, project, labour, equity and welfare. Very easy to forget that.
In SA Some changes are in the NLTA no 5 of 2009 issued as “National Land Transport Amendment Bill B7–2016”. Of particular interest in this short note is the redefinitions of transport related terms. In an apathetic way some argue that these are just changes in jargon or cheap talk. However, regardless of whether it’s better or not, these terms are legislated and require some scrutiny, not all in this note. I’ll focus on pressing definitions that need to be discussed.
Integrated public transport networks have been synonymous with Bus Rapid Transit investment, mobility and access schemes. Initially the term ‘IRPTN’ was used synonymously with BRT networks with feeders although minibus taxis can provide similar rapidness if they had dedicated lanes (because of the tighter headways). The mandate of many of the investments leading up to 2010 had an activity focus (sports) and not a transport development focus. Many metros were practically instructed to adopt the BRT scheme, meanwhile very few people asked whether minibus services had been recapitalized; or the impact on these services on existing city bus networks.
The top-down approach to developing local areas in metros continues to inspire compounded challenges from other transport operators, city planning and financial sustainability. Considering that paratransit around the world provides a number of benefits and can be supported through various mechanisms it’s rather crucial that policy responds to the emerging need for the industry’s fiscal and structural inclusion.
At the same time, mobility industries are disrupted from a number of angles, this has been enroute even before Uber landed. Considering the vast array of technology based mobility information systems emerging in SA, and around the world the transport industry is under extensive pressures to reform. In most of Africa, the lack of integrated systems and institutional infrastructure and infostructure does not complement the growth in expertise and talent in mobility and access in industry. Although SA is reactive in terms of policy, and systems, there are a few reforms and policy statements that suggest a deep readiness for progression.
Policy reforms to reflect minibus and other forms of paratransit in integrated public transport networks.
Municipalities in South Africa are expected to develop Integrated Transport Plans every 5 years. Within these plans a public transport strategy should be a chapter when planning is comprehensive; or an appendix if not. Integrated public transport networks are developed as a sub-project of ITPs.
At the base of the amended definition, system wide modal integration includes non-motorised transport. Adopting an adopt-shift-improve approach the policy position encourages mobility and access services that may convince more people to start or continue using public and non-motorised transport. Comparing (a) and (b) the rapid nature of the service does not necessarily need to be bus based. Which is a profoundly important step because paratransit services can be used as part of a neural network of local areas and urban areas in a variety of ways — not just as a feeder. In other words, all forms of public passenger transport can now be integrated into a system operated to achieve the national vision for equitable access and mobility more than ever before. So municipalities planning mobility and access systems should be brave and bold. Industry practitioners should be actively developmental, innovative and creative as hell. The lazy era is crumbling quickly for public and private sectors.
Some of the most essential evolutionary changes are:
- Level 1 : mobility information
- Level 2 : mobility mapping
- Level X : Travel Planning
- Level Y: Trip And Service Booking
- Level 3 : mobility operations
- Level 4 : mobility simulation
- Level 5 : dynamic service design
- Level Z : Integrated institutional infrastructure and ‘infostructure’
The inclusion of technology assisted ride-hail services in the definition of metered taxi
This is not only timely with the International Transport Forum’s (ITF) effective report on regulating such entities, but it sets the stage for a digital future. But the basic principles of economic efficiency and welfare should not fall away for the sake of free market behavior. Much clearer regulations, supporting standards, and measures of performance are necessary. This way the implementation of policies occur through multiple guidelines as with best practice.
Operational information systems for both transport operators and users
With the mobility applications and the increasing scale of transportation information systems, key policy positions have been enacted. Apart from the financial flow within and across spheres of government, information systems required by the act are rather prolific.
The Operating License Administrative System (OLAS) should reflect the registration, subsidy and a relationship with the eNatis system (amid scandal). However, although the Act purports that this system is ‘administrative’; from a economic regulation and planning perspective such a system should have:
- Travel demand data
- Transport land use data
- Public transportation traffic flow data
- Network and charging analytical capacity
- Interchange utilization information
And various other components that are part of the SmartCity model that incorporates real time awareness of the state of the city, town and area. There are financial provisions for the establishment of such systems in rural areas too. The information systems envisioned here should also account for customer satisfaction, user needs and other analytics in an integrated fashion. To populate this system the following, among many other things need to be done:
- Paratransit information system (real time data and service offering)
- Mobility application analytics (mode choice, alternative consideration and trip planning)
- Local area logistics data (context specifically reflect the use of roadway infrastructure for passenger and goods movement)
- Non-motorized mobility data
- Integrated data collection technology/techniques
Opportunities for development
In the midst of an enquiry, violent competition and fears of digitizations it is important for institutions to adapt. System wide reforms are necessary if the Department of Transport and transport services wish to get ahead over and above playing catch up. Integrated transport demands seamless information flow across and between transport modes, services, land use, users and operators. This should not be taken for granted any longer.
Examples in South Africa
- The first transport planning and accessibility system with data collection capabilities on a mobile app was GoMetroPro. The company is known for initiating a radical change in travel data collection for transport plans but after talking with Justin Coetzee, I realized the business model is much broader.
- Infostructure is a term I first heard in an interview with Madelein Zhou of WhereIsMyTransport. The company is known for developing minibus taxi route maps, although they started through a national bus schedule app called FindMyWay.