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Opinion piece by Ørjan Kirkefjord, published in CEOWorld Magazine.

When I travel to a new city I always explore its public transportation. On one of my recent travels, I arrived at the airport and went to take the bus to my hotel. At the bus terminal I struggled to find the best route, the right bus, and did not know what kind of ticket to buy. What was the cheapest and best option? Could I use the off-peak discount? Should I buy a round-trip ticket? I struggled, like everyone else.

Two of the main thresholds for using public transportation are finding updated information about the route and buying the best ticket. Today the passenger needs to find the best route for their destination, buy the correct ticket for their journey, how to pay for it, and what the available discounts are. The card and cash based ticketing prevents more people from starting to use public transportation.

We need more people to choose public transportation now. With growing populations, cities are becoming bigger and more congested. By 2050, 80% of the world’s projected nine billion people will live in urban areas. The growing urban population will increase traffic congestion and contribute to more greenhouse gas emissions. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have highlighted the need for sustainable public transport in target 11.2: “By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all”. I share this goal. And it is one that we at FARA are working everyday to help cities reach.

There are many solutions that combined can realize target 11.2. Ensuring smarter transportation is one of them, and lowering the threshold to choose public transportation is essential. Passengers expect:

  1. Efficient public transportation to get them where they need to be, when they need to be there.
  2. Constant access to real-time information, avoiding the need to plan ahead.

We need to beat passenger’s expectations.

With over two billion smartphone users in the world, passengers are online before, during and after their journey. Leveraging advanced technology in public transport is a game changer that can make public transport people’s preferred form of travel.

So imagine if I arrived at the airport. Pull up the app on my phone that includes both a journey planner and ticket purchasing. It would use my phone’s GPS to pick up where I was. I’d type in where I needed to go, and it would provide me with the best route and cheapest ticket.

That’s exactly what we have done in the Nordics. By offering journey planning, ticket purchase and real-time journey information in one single app, FARA makes travelling a seamless experience. Our best price solution makes sure that the passengers always get the lowest price for their journeys. This way the passenger doesn’t need to plan ahead and is rewarded for traveling more. In Oulu, FARA’s solution shows you the exact position of all buses on a map on large bus stop screens and on a mobile app. This way you know exactly how long you have to wait and any given moment.

Our focus is on developing technological solutions that improve life quality, contribute to a greener environment and beat passengers’ expectations. As an industry we need to create travel solutions that make information more accessible to passengers, improve operator performance and enable authorities to provide the best service possible. Because it is only when we work together that we can create real change. This is not just my journey towards smarter transportation, we need everyone to hop on board.

This article was first published in CEOWorld Magazine by CEO of FARA Ørjan Kirkefjord.