More Great Content
I agree to receive Trapeze Group and its operating groups future communications about event information, newsletters, product information, user conferences, best practices, blogs, webinars and workshops. Please see our Privacy Policy for details and opt-out options.
Type your search
Episode 040: Transit Unplugged Podcast - Jeroen Weimar
Jeroen Weimar – Public Transport Victoria

“For the very first time, handheld technology has allowed us to say to people, ‘Your value of time has suddenly shifted.’”

Transit Unplugged has left North America and traveled to Australia. Our first guest on this seven-part series in the land Down Under, Jeroen Weimar, CEO of Public Transport Victoria (PTV), was one of the people that helped set up Transport for London and jumped around the industry a bit before landing at PTV.

With Melbourne being one of the fastest growing developed cities in the industrialized world, the state of Victoria is investing heavily in transportation. The regional government is spending $38B on new rail, new road tunnels, upgrades, and general transport infrastructure spending, which gives PTV an excellent opportunity to advance public transport in the region.

Public Transport Victoria has many different modes – bus, metro, commuter rail, etc. – but the most notable mode is the largest tram system in the world. Between all these modes, PTV has ~2 million passengers every day. About 20 or so years ago, they started outsourcing operations of their entire service, but the passengers only see a single entity – PTV. Weimar notes the difference between outsourcing and privatizing since PTV owns the “infrastructure, track, power, everything.”

On this episode, Weimar discusses how contracting out their service is the way that PTV provides safe, efficient, and reliable service. He also goes into the challenge of running some legacy systems while PTV invests in new technology. Finally, he shares the plan for PTV’s new mobile payment platform and the importance of transport to communities.

If you want to know more about PTV, you can check out their website.

Remember to check out transitunplugged.com to learn from top transit professionals and stay up to date to catch all the latest episodes.

Show Transcript

Paul Comfort: I'm Paul Comfort. Welcome to Transit Unplugged. Today's a special edition of the show, a part of our seven-part series on transit in the land down under, Australia. Today our guest is Jeroen Weimar, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Public Transport Victoria or PTV. They're a statewide transit system oversight agency that oversees systems like Yarra Trams and the metro system there and the V/Line. All of these systems serve the State of Victoria, including the city of Melbourne. You'll hear all about this extensive network and how contracting out the service is the way that they provide safe, efficient, and reliable service with world-class customer service. They're in Australia, in the land down under, on this special edition and interview with Jeroen Weimar, CEO of Public Transport Victoria on Transit Unplugged.

Intro: What does it mean to be a successful public transit agency? What are you doing to lead the way it's time to learn from the top transit professionals in North America? This is Transit Unplugged with your host Paul Comfort.

Paul Comfort: I'm Paul Comfort. Welcome to Transit Unplugged, the worldwide phenomenon, where we interview top CEOs from transit systems around the world and ask them about their career, their current projects, and the future of public transit. And today I'm excited to be in the land down under as part of our series where Transit Unplugged visits Australia, and we have the CEO of Public Transport Victoria. Jeroen Weimar, which is the, basically, the government transit system for the whole State here. Is that right, Jeroen?

Jeroen Weimar: That's right, Paul. Yeah. It's good to have you here.

Paul Comfort: Thank you. Yeah, thanks. You got a great office here in downtown Melbourne. Tell us about yourself, some, a little bit about your background and how you ended up here as CEO of this massive transit system, which operates, by the way, the world's largest tram system.

Jeroen Weimar: That's right. Yeah. We’re very excited about our little network down here in Victoria, at the bottom end of the world. And look, being here, you'd asked me five years ago, I wouldn't have been able to put Melbourne on the map. So, it's been an interesting journey over the last five years and coming in here and becoming part of the team.

My background very briefly is I had a spoiled youth in my twenties in being a consultant, and I moved back into the real world of running transport services in my late twenties. I was part of the team that first set up the Greater London Authority and Transport for London. So, London didn't have an integrated transport authority. We built it with the great Bob Kiley back in 2001. I was part of Bob's team, and we set up Transport for London and built the organization and the roots of the organization that, that we see today. Ten interesting years with Transport for London running a range of things from setting up the organization, the chief of staff through to running policing enforcement services, which are running congestion charging and ending up running the whole overground network. Essentially the buses, the roads, and the road control systems.

I then spent five or six years working in the commercial sector. I think it's, as we know around the world, we have private contractors running many of our public transport services. So I spent a couple of years with Serco running a number of big transport contracts in the U.K. for a range of clients, including the wonderful trains at the Docklands Light Railway and Northern Rail and Merseyrail. And then a few years with First Group running commercial bus services in the U.K. And that's an interesting piece. I mean, when you rely entirely on your farebox for your revenue, and that's the money you take through the till, as the money you've got to run the service that puts a different lens on how you run these kinds of services. And then, you know, some, head-hunter phoned up from Melbourne and said, "You fancy a tilt at running the world's best public transport system?" I said, sure, let's come over here.

Paul Comfort: And how long you've been here?

Jeroen Weimar: So, I've been here four years now, just over four years.

Paul Comfort: Awesome. What would you say, if you can remember back, what was the most surprising thing to you when you came from TFL and London to here?

Jeroen Weimar: The exciting thing about Victoria or Melbourne is that it's the growth that you see all around you. So, you know, we are the fastest-growing developed city in the industrialized world. When I arrived here, we were just over 4 million. Now we're just under 5 million. You know, we have population growth of two and a half or so percent per annum. We've got the equivalent of two, three travelers or people are arriving in Melbourne every single week to live here. That physical sense of growth and the visible changes you see happening around you and the city is just palpable, and that gives you huge opportunities. Growth makes so many things possible.

And the second thing then is that the speed of change here we can adapt very quickly. We have a state-level of government, so the state government is very close to the State. It's a state of only six, seven million people. So, you can make decisions quickly. You've got a very short line between me and the real decision-makers in government. We have a healthy balance sheet and a healthy profit and loss account in government. So, we've got resources to play with, and you can see that with the investment program that's going on around you. So, the investment in removing these ridiculous level crossing from our network, the investment in the Metro tunnel, the investment in new rail services, new trains, we're getting whole [inaudible] finally of the tram networks. There're some really big changes that we're making that all of our passengers can see that's driving growth in demand for our services. And there's a lot of excitement about the future.

Paul Comfort: That's great. Tell me about you. You said it's only a short hop, skip, and a jump to the decision-makers in the government. Tell me about how you're governed. Do you have a board of directors? Who do you report to? Those kinds of things.

Jeroen Weimar: It's very simple. I work for the Minister of Transport. So, that the governance system here is, we have a state government for Victoria, it's a full, what we call a Westminster model of government. So, we have a governing party, we have an opposition, and we have a full, almost a full state government, which runs policing and education and housing and land use planning and public transport and infrastructure and social services. It's the full bag of works that you would expect. Certainly, in the European context, many of the national functions here are vested at State level. So, the Commonwealth level, you know the Australia-wide level of government here does some stuff, but it's mainly things like defense and welfare policy, the running of public services and the funding for public services in taxation for public services and the borrowing of funds with the Exchequer is all done at the state level. So, that gives the State real control over the leavers and, and of course, it means it's a pretty agile setup. That's the structure of government.

We have actually not one, not two, but three ministers for transport in this government. We have a minister for roads, we have a minister for public transport, and we have a minister for transport infrastructure, which is because of the huge investment we're doing in infrastructure - where we're spending $38 billion at the moment on new rail, new road tunnels, upgrades, costings. You name it, we are building it. So, we have three ministers who work very closely together on the team. I report directly to the Minister of public transport. I spend a lot of time with the other two ministers because everything connects to everything.

I'm appointed. So, I'm appointed by the government directly as the CEO of the agency. I guess we would be a short arm-length agency from government, so there is a more traditional department for transport that does the, what you'd expect a state bureaucracy to do. You know, with drugs policies, managed budgets, provides advice, does stuff. And we have a public transport agency, PTV with five-hundred-fifty or so people who are there to provide and own the network.

One of the unique things about, Melbourne and about Victoria is, apart from being the best place in the world, is that it runs them as outsource version of public transport service. Even when I was in London, and you look at systems in the U.S. and in Europe, the vast majority are still run via public sector. There will still be state employees or other local government employees or national government employees. But they'll be largely public employees employed to run those services to drive the trains, the trams, the buses, to maintain, to invest in all the rest of it.

I used to think the U.K. was pretty aggressive about outsourcing, but Melbourne went a lot further, and in the late nineties, 20 or so years ago, we outsourced our train system, our tram system. Our bus system has always been run in the commercial sector. I'm essentially a big contract manager - I'm just a big procurement department is all I do. I'm just a bean counter who essentially manages a series of contracts to try and make these services work, where the real operating decisions are made by our contractees. So, Raymond, who will be, I think, on another one of your podcasts, runs our train network. Nicolas runs the tram network, and I have a whole host of these guys who hold the contract to run the individual services.

However, what our passengers see is a single brand and a single entity. So, the passengers don't see that we've got Keolis Downer running the trams and MTR running the trains and Ventura Buses running the buses. You have to look pretty hard, as you do in London, to see who these companies are. What people see is Public Transport Victoria. They see the State's symbols, and they expect the State to front up and say we're accountable for running these services for you. So, if your services work right, which of course they do, then please let us know that the State is doing a good job because this is your government getting you to work every day. If things are not working well, then they expect me as the representative of PTV to be the person saying here's what's going wrong in a very similar way that Howard Collins would do for Sydney trains who is a feature of another one of your podcasts.

Paul Comfort: Yeah. So, tell us about the scope of the services that you oversee. You just touched on that and as I interview these other guys who are CEOs of their particular operations, but I want to get a grand scope of everything you're doing here.

Jeroen Weimar: So, the grand scope here is that we have these ways of thinking about, we have around 2 million passengers every working day on our network. So, what we have is we have the world's largest tram network, over 400 trams on of the peak, Yarra Trams, our wonderful old streetcar system, a cable car system originally. It's actually a lovely streetcar system built in the late 19th century, really came into its fruition in the 1920s and thirties and retained, unlike very many cities around the world, we retained all tram system, and it's a wonderful thing. So, a tram system that really dominates the inner suburban area. It really is a big footprint, a big spiders web across the central city.

We then have our suburban train system, the metro train network that runs around at 800 kilometers of track. It's got 218 stations across the network. We run something like 3000 services a day or two, 2000, 300 hundred services at day on the metro train service. So, that's the heavy lifting for us on the network - 800,000 passenger journeys a day just on our train network.

Then we have our suburban bus network. So, we have probably an arrangement of around 1,500 or so buses running around suburban Melbourne. So, largely the outer suburbs, so the tram covers the inner heart of the city. We do have buses that run through the center, but the real heavy lifting is done in the outer suburbs.

Paul Comfort: So, they kind of come in and drop them off at stations are, and they can transfer to the rail?

Jeroen Weimar: Correct. It's a big bus to rail, bus to tram connecting service to avoid, you know, pushing more and more buses into the central city.

And then we have our regional rail networks, so a long-distance and regional rail network that runs right from the city all the way out to V/Line - which I also happen to chair, so that's another fun duty. But V/Line is the one public service provider we still have in this State. Owned by the public sector, run by public sector employees with a board of management that I chair as a CEO of PTV. That runs to exotic places like Warrnambool and Wodonga, and Terrigal. It runs right across three to four-hour journeys right across the length and breadth of the State.

Paul Comfort: And do they handle the paratransit as well for people with disabilities?

Jeroen Weimar: They do. So, one of the things that we major on here, and I think probably more so than the European systems I'm familiar with, is we provide a far higher level of accessibility to our core network. So, our train network, in particular, the metropolitan train network, every one of our stations but one is fully wheelchair accessible. All of our trains are wheelchair accessible. People can get in and out of our system independently. Level boarding, clear ramps, lifts everywhere, the whole works. Look, we have legacy infrastructure where we have improvised ways of getting people onto those trains. And we ask our metro drivers to provide assistance to getting people on wheelchairs if they need a bit of support.

Paul Comfort: So, you've got an extensive service?

Jeroen Weimar: We do. So, the rail network doesn't cover the whole city, but the areas it does cover, it provides actually a very high standard. Could always be improved, and we spend a lot of our time with accessibility lobby groups who are powerful advocates for us doing better and a very important one.

Paul Comfort: Is that outsourced as well?

Jeroen Weimar: No, that's all that's all done internally. And then in terms of our accessibility on the bus network, we have around 95% of our buses are low-floor and accessible. You have a reasonable track record in terms of our bus stops, you know, 70,000 bus stops across the city in terms of how well they work. So, those are in reasonably good shape.

The real challenge for us on accessibility is the tram network. So, the trams as a streetcar system is a tough nut to crack. We have 1700 stops across the city. Around a quarter of those are fully blue chair accessible. You know, they're all in the CBD, you'll see them. They're essentially big central island platforms in the middle of the street that provide all passengers with a much safer and much more secure boarding environment and of course, provide access for those who need a bit more help to get on the trams. Around a quarter of our fleet of the tram network is now is all wheelchair accessible - as low-floor, that works very well. The challenge is putting the infrastructure together with the trams. So, 3/4 of my trams are still high-floor, 30 years old. They're beautiful, but they're not very accessible when you see people everyday lifting up buggies, and it's just a nightmare. So that's the big challenge for us.

Paul Comfort: So, you own all the rolling stock, right?

Jeroen Weimar: That's right. So that's why I say outsourced rather than privatized. We own all the trains. We own all the infrastructure, the track, the power, everything we own.

Paul Comfort: You must have a massive asset management program to control all that and to budget for new vehicles and all that.

Jeroen Weimar : That's been an interesting piece over the last few years because one of the discoveries after the first stage of outsourcing, back 20 years ago, was there was a view in government at the time that said "That's great, we've just moved and handed the whole train set over to these commercial operators, and we get it back in seven years time." But they've got it, they'll look after it, and we'll get it back in the same shape.

But two things happened. One is, one of the operators went bust because they got their projections wrong and actual the cost of the thing was a lot more than it allowed for. So, the keys were handed back, and that was a bit difficult. But the other piece is that an operator with a timeline of seven years isn't going to have the same incentives to look after a 30-40 year asset as the ultimate owner. There is a very active asset management conversation taking place between us and Keolis, and Nicolas Gindt, and Raymond of MTR, that says we have a very detailed contract about what are you going to do with our asset for the seven or eight years that we're entrusting you with that asset? How are we going to know the asset condition? How are we going to be confident that you're making the right decisions to prioritize the right investment in maintenance, not so that it's efficient for the 30 to 40-year view? Not just a seven minus x view. That's an ongoing debate.

So, getting the asset into the right shape is an ongoing battle, particularly because the demands we're placing on the network continue to evolve. We're carrying more people now - we doubled the metropolitan train patronage in the last 12-13 years. So, you're carrying that many more people that puts a completely different risk profile on your asset. That all has to be factored in.

Paul Comfort: Do you have monitors that go out and check the condition to make sure what you're being told is true?

Jeroen Weimar: We do. We have people going out and doing audits and doing checks on the asset condition. We're doing a whole bunch of work at the moment to try and baseline our asset conditions – where are we really at – because we were spending more money now on the network than we've ever done before. We're investing in more new infrastructure, which is great. It's a great, great thing to be involved in, but you've then got to say, well, how does that integrate with the Brownfield stuff? How does that integrate with all the old rolling stock we're still using in the old stations? And how do you ensure the system, as a whole, comes up to a level rather than having a few jewels in the crown and the rest of thing is still pretty chunky?

Paul Comfort: One of the problems that I've seen in the United States is politicians like to see our names on brass plaques. So, we want that sexy new line, that new service, meanwhile, the professional managers are telling us you can't forget maintenance, state of good repair, and maintenance of their assets. And now the federal government has put in place a scoring mechanism where we have to score. Do you all have things like that here, so you know when it's time to buy?

Jeroen Weimar: Yes, and no.

I mean, one of my jobs is to have that conversation with government. A privilege of my job is to be at the interface that says there was a government elected democratically with a policy mandate to improve the network, provide for future growth of the city in the State, and to develop the new infrastructure into the new suburbs and provide people with more access to services. I'm the boring guy that then turns up and says, by the way, I need to upgrade my radio control system, which is really technical and really dull, and it costs an insane amount of money, but it's just as important. That's the dialogue.

Bus tracking software is another example. We have a lot of legacy systems that we're relying on. We have DOS computer systems that we're relying upon that's part of our reporting systems and part of our rostering system. If we don't upgrade those, then, yeah, we can have shiny new trains, but if we can't get flexibility in the driver workforce to be rostering when we need them, then the trains don't go anywhere.

There is a healthy level of understanding in government that this stuff is complex, and it's got lots of dynamics and, equally, it's absolutely right that the democratic process puts pressure on people like me because otherwise, the engineers go mad. We'll gold plate everything, you know? We're happy to spend as much money as a result.

Paul Comfort: How do you fund it all? Tell us about your funding, and what are you looking for? I mean, yesterday when I was here, wasn't the Prime Minister here announcing a brand-new tunnel to the airport or something?

Jeroen Weimar: Yeah, that's right. So, let's talk about the basics first. We recover around 30% of our operating costs from the farebox. That's not high by international standards - it's pretty low. Again, when I was in London, we were recovering close to 100% of operating costs over the farebox.

Paul Comfort: Thirty percent is pretty good compared to America. My bus service in Baltimore was under 20%.

Jeroen Weimar : The importance of that is huge because the more that transport authorities are able to hold up their revenue line or able to fund their own operating costs and ideally fund towards long-term maintenance and renewal, the more you can even out the ups and downs of the fiscal cycle, but also the ups and downs in the political cycle. And we've all seen cities and networks around the world where there's been reforming governments come in that dump a load of investment in and then four years later, eight years later, it all dries off and then, it goes into a long period of decline. See New York as the best example.

Paul Comfort: Yes. Andy, our buddy there has asked for $40 billion at the end of the day.

Jeroen Weimar: So, you know, Bob Kiley went in there in the late eighties early nineties and sorted of the place out and, you know, then you see 20 years later it's all falling apart again.

Paul Comfort: So that is your job, right? To make the pitch to the Minister - I need this much money.

Jeroen Weimar: That's right. That's my job. So, my job is to say, how do I retain as much revenue in the network? Full stop. How do I make the argument with government to the Minister, to the Premiere, to the Treasurer especially, to other politicians to say we need consistency of all funding and resource allocation?

Paul Comfort: What's your total annual operating budget?

Jeroen Weimar: So, we have about a $4 billion Aussie dollar operating budget. And capital is very high at the moment. So, it's like we're spending about 10 to $12 billion at the moment on average around or on all our infrastructure program. We know that's a bulge. It's the same kind of bubble that we're going through. But we're now starting to think, okay, in 10-years time, when all that infrastructure was landed, and it needs to be maintained, and we're running 20% more services to utilize the infrastructure, to provide more services, that all costs money. So, what is the long-term funding model look like that's going to sustain that so we don't end up in another nuclear winter where all the money disappears, and you can't run services?

Paul Comfort: In Maryland, we had a six-year consolidated transportation plan, so we would plan out our capital budget six years in advanced. Do you have something like that here?

Jeroen Weimar: Yeah, broadly.

So, we have a four-year funding commitment from government. This is one of the benefits of the outsourcing model for us, is that, essentially, we're signing seven to 10-year contracts, so we're locking in a financial commitment. We're locking in our operating costs. We’re actually risk transferring quite a lot. So, we're transferring the risk to Raymond (of Metro Trains Melbourne) and to Nicolas (of Keolis Downer) saying you guys can now manage your cost base because we've given you our price, we've put away the money, we're all good to go. So, my seven to 10-year projection is pretty good. I know what I can afford to run. My challenge is, in seven to 10-years time, all the infrastructure comes back to me. I have to go back out to the market. I'm going to reprice it. Everything's going to go up by x percent. I negotiate it down by y percent - do I have the difference to fund? That's the challenge.

Paul Comfort: So, tell us about the exciting things you're doing now. You've got so many cool things you're working on.

Jeroen Weimar: As I said, it's already a fun place. There's a lot we can do. The immediate thing we'll be doing very shortly is looking to expand our mobile payment platform. We have a smart card, which is super. We're now loading it onto phones. We'll be doing that pretty soon, and that will finally remove the need to carry the physical ticket on our network.

Paul Comfort: Are you going to try to shift with people that way?

Jeroen Weimar: That's right. We're actually keen to shift people into technology. It then allows you to integrate into the APP. It starts to bring all these strands back together again. It's a really fun thing to be doing.

Paul Comfort: Are you going to skip over the tap and go?

Jeroen Weimar: So, we had a lot of conversations with London that went down a really good route for them, which enabled them to move easily to tap and go. The configuration of our back-office does not allow us to do that. But what we are able to do is to essentially use an app software to mimic the card. So, we are using an NFC chip to mimic what a smart card does.

Paul Comfort: Will you tap it, or you don't need to tap it?

Jeroen Weimar: You will need to tap it, but you'll be tapping with your phone. Right now, we've got android over the line. We're working with the other big guys - we'll get them squared away. That's an exciting fun thing.

The feedback from our passengers - we've got 4,000 people out there are now playing with it, and trying it, and trying to break it, and they love it - 92% say this is fantastic. They're asking, "When can we have some more?" So, by the time this comes out, hopefully, we'll be able to announce something. So excited about that. It's a good example of technology allowing us to do so much more. So, for the very first time, what handheld technology allows us to do is to say to people, your value of time is suddenly shifted.

So, when you and I were first starting our working careers, the preference would always have been for people to sit in their cars because they could listen to the radio and have their private space. And 15 years ago, they could maybe even make their own private phone calls while they're driving along and you couldn't do that on a train, and it was painful. Whereas now, I can't reach Facebook when I'm driving. You know, it's a really dangerous thing to do, right? So, suddenly people can work, they can do social media, they can stay connected, they can read the paper, that can do everything when they're in public transport. All the things that can no longer do when they're driving in cars. And it's a game-changer. It's a game-changer for millennials, for people like Jake sitting here in the room, who value time very differently, who value technology very differently than old people like you and I. So, that's a big shift.

Then you start to apply technology to the transit environment. Obviously, you're well aware of how we use real-time information on our networks. Every single one of our services has now got real-time information in the hands of the user. You know where your services are going to be. So, we haven't quite thrown away at the timetable yet. I'm desperate to do it. We will do it at some point.

Paul Comfort: Do headway management instead?

Jeroen Weimar: Exactly. Get the headway management. Get to turn up and go. Get to people saying you don't need a bit of paper to tell you when the train's going to turn up. You're going to rock up to a location, we'll give you a prompt two-minutes out, and it'll be there. All of that's within touch. You see it in other parts of the world. It's nothing novel, but it's an amazing thing for our passage to completely change it.

Paul Comfort: What else is next?

Jeroen Weimar: The other pieces for us then is around saying, "How do we fire up all this new infrastructure?" We get new tunnels. We're getting new trains. We get to a turn-up and go service. We make these interchanges work properly. And interchanging is a transport planner's dream, and it's a passenger's nightmare, right?

So, we know, particularly in here in Victoria and in Australia, generally, there is still an expectation in a very strong customer preference. It says, "I want to have a one-seat journey." So, you know, I'm prepared to drive to a station, and then I want to one-seat journey to my final destination. And we're just about to really tackle that. We want you to interchange. We want you to walk and cycle to the station. You to take a bus to the station, but we'll make that interchange in our transition really smooth. You're then going to go close to the CBD, and you may have to change again to get to your final destination, and that's okay. That's part of the journey.

If we can make those transition points much more frictionless, so much we make those environments more enjoyable, that opens up huge opportunities for getting more capacity out of your network. Because right now our network is hobbled with some really unproductive, inefficient uses of our train paths, of our tram routes because they're all winding through to do these one-seat journeys, which is just not viable anymore. Then that's part of the growth pains. That's when you're a city of three to four million people you can do stuff like that. When you're a city of five to eight million people, you can't, and the whole game starts to change.

And I think the other piece is around doing a lot of work with local communities around places. This is not a public transport story - and public transport is boring - this is about how cities develop and how communities develop and how societies work. So, I talked about the tram and trying to make trams accessible to people. Do they get into local communities? So, I'm talking to local governments and local communities around the high streets and saying, how do I build my accessible platform stops in your street without ruining your retail strip? How do I use it to improve the urban environment? How do I improve those other communities? How can you work with me to do that?

And that means I have to be more flexible, which is hard 'cause I'm a state transit authority that likes to get stuff done. You have to be more in tune with what the different local needs are, and you have to be more flexible. So, there's a whole different set of skills that come to play. But we're building a future city here and the way we connect these communities will determine how they operate and how they go in the future. So, for a city that's growing quickly, that's a really exciting place to be.

Paul Comfort: That's exciting. Yeah. You've got quite a good vision for what's happening. And I think that the last part is very realistic and to make sure that you can make changes and improvements that are accepted by the community and make the community better.

Jeroen Weimar: That's right. Ultimately, if the public isn't using our services, if they don't love public transport, they don't love their trains and trams and buses, they won't vote for them. And then we would just see these systems continue to wither on the vine, and the result of that is ghastly cities that just don't function properly. They're not fit for the future.

So, we haven't even talked about rideshare. We haven't even talked about automation. All those technologies that are coming up on the rails, they give us so many more opportunities to build an integrated network that is intuitive, that allows people to flow. That's all out there. But if we don't get the basics right, that's not possible. Then these modes will become competitive, and we see hollowed out, low density disorientated places that are just not competitive for the future.

Paul Comfort: Well, let's close with that then - why don't you give us your vision of where you think all that plays in? The automation? You know, everybody's talking about it now, automated vehicles, are they the best first- and last-mile solution, so you don't have to drive? Where do you see transport in general, not just here, but as a leader in the industry? Where do you see going in the next five to 10 years?

Jeroen Weimar: I think ten years is easier than five. So, if you took ten years out, I think what you'll see is far more connected transit systems. You'll see people making far smoother journeys using multiple different modes. And those contact points will be far more intuitive - it'll be a single pricing structure, single information field. There'll be much less competition between people saying, "I'm making a choice between a car and public transport and walking and cycling." They'll come together much more.

We will see the grip of the privately-owned vehicle will be eroding, particularly in urban societies. I think, in outer suburban rural areas, different game. But I think in urban societies the availability of on-demand, private transport of short-term car hire, car share, will really continue to erode the privately-owned market. That opens up huge opportunities for mass transit systems. So, mass transit systems integrating and connecting with the last-mile home providers and finding far more flexible ways to do that. It's enabled, it's held together by technology.

I think there will be a competition in that market between who owns the customer. So, who does the customer play with? So does the customer play with Uber? Does the customer play with Public Transport Victoria? Does the customer play with Google? Who are the players in this market and who are the people who fulfill the service behind the scenes, and that hasn't settled yet? That's a really interesting, commercial versus public policy kind of space. It's terribly exciting. And look at the end of the day, the customer will win in all this. They will make their own choices around these are the people I trust my data with, my information with, I trust my finances with, and who I rely upon to get me to move around these places.

Paul Comfort: This morning, I was talking about exactly that. What's the role with a public agency? I believe it's the aggregator of all of it, that we need to be the centerpiece.

Jeroen Weimar: And that's where the public policy agenda becomes so important. So, how you run your mobility services, how you provide the infrastructure, where you've got the investment, it drives how societies work. It defines where people live, where they work, where they go to school. So if the public policy space isn't positively held and then it's eroded away, you lose control of how your society develops. And we do know that there's a fantastic set of disruptors bringing real innovation, real creativity, really good ideas to the table. The risk is they don't own the long-term future. So they'll come in, and they'll take a bit of the market, and they'll evolve into the next thing. We should work with them, we should learn from them, we should adapt to them, but we can't relinquish control.

Paul Comfort: Great way to close it. You've got a great system here. Melbourne is not only, I think, the most livable city in the world, but it's got probably like you said, the most advanced, connected, and awesome transit system I've seen.

Outro: You've been listening to Transit Unplugged, powered by Trapeze Group. To stay up to date, subscribe on iTunes or Google Play, or join the conversation at Transit Unplugged dot com. Thanks for listening.

Request a Live Demo
 
Let's get you on the mailing list
 
Select Your Region
Region Setting Change By continuing to this page your default view will change to Trapeze North America.
You can change back to your preferred region at any time by clicking the Region options above.
Change Region and Proceed
Return to My Default Homepage