As the highest capital city in the world, La Paz, Bolivia is nestled into the mountains 12,000 feet above sea level. Getting around the city can be challenging, as you are literally navigating through mountains.
On a recent trip to La Paz, I couldn’t help but notice the government’s efforts to greatly improve citizen mobility. Locals use an intricate ecosystem of cable cars that crisscross the city to ease daily commutes. In every neighborhood I visited, there were new stations, complete with advanced lighting, signage and an organized fare-collection system, creating the foundation for citizen productivity.
It was evident that almost every facet of La Paz is undergoing positive changes due in part to these public transportation improvements, which give greater flexibility to the individual and help create a happier, more productive society based on my conversations with locals in healthcare, government, retail and manufacturing. The city and its citizens are still evolving, but La Paz is on the right track to creating a more efficient and mobile society.
The future of transportation
La Paz is not alone, around the world local governments are focused on creating citizen experiences through more efficient infrastructure, better access to transportation services, and technology innovations. Bogota, Beijing, Dubai, Melbourne, DC, San Francisco and Portland—the list of major cities involved in expansions or transformations is seemingly endless.
In Australia, Public Transport Victoria (PTV) has undergone a major transformation. Riders can now use multiple channels, including mobile and web, on the new open micropayment transit ticketing system to purchase a fare card, check their balance, and add fares to their card. PTV is a great candidate to further enhance agencies mobile capabilities using a mobility as a service (MaaS) model.
MaaS models are a trending topic for local public transportation executives as a mechanism to facilitate the citizen experience and cater to a new type of citizen. Millennials are seeking a single point of purchase for multi-modal transportation services via a finger-swipe mobile solution. It’s clear that bringing together features such as journey planning, traffic re-routing and location-based services should be top of the list for transit agencies and governments.
According to The Guardian’s Adam Greenfield, Helsinki, Finland has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point “mobility on demand” system by 2025—one that, in theory, would be so good no one would have a reason to own a car. Greenfield says Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time from their smartphones. The plan is to furnish riders with an array of options so inexpensive, flexible, and well-coordinated that it successfully competes with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.
Sensor-based technologies are maturing. Data collection and dissemination methods are improving and becoming mainstream. Public transport needs strong MaaS to seamlessly bring multiple transport services into one app in a simple, accessible, engaging way.
Many cities are embracing one-off technology changes in mobility, but it’s clear that a shift in citizen behaviors and preferences is accelerating the need for immersive mobile experiences, creating a deep network of services that lets citizens easily adopt and engage.