Each year we see predictions for industry trends that will shape the way we do business in the coming year. In 2016, we saw changes that affected the way customers interact with transit providers, movement in the autonomous vehicle industry, and an increase in the use of paratransit. We may not have hit on all of our predictions from that year, but we will give it another shot for 2017.
1. The autonomous vehicles will be on the roads and running transit routes.
With the appointment of Elaine Chao as the Transportation Secretary for the Trump administration, the autonomous vehicle industry is very excited about the future. Her support of the ride-sharing industry and soft approach to regulations is driving that excitement. According to an article published by The Hill, David Strickland, general counsel for the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, said, "[W]e welcome the opportunity to work with her on bringing the safety and mobility benefits of fully self-driving vehicles to America’s roads and highways." The addition of autonomous vehicles to sectors of public transit such as paratransit and ride-sharing, could ultimately cut costs and give agencies the ability to adopt modern demand response software which will, in turn, boost organizational efficiency.
2. Mobile software for the paratransit industry will become increasingly important due to changing demographics.
With the disabled population growing from year to year with a projection of 72 million by 2025, it is clear to see that demand will continue to increase. What is not so clear is the fact that even the aging portion of this population is becoming more connected with technology. Many services are already making scheduling as easy as opening up an app and pressing a few buttons. Mobile software offers people a user experience that offers instant gratification and ease of use. Making this type of software available to the paratransit community is crucial and it has already been a big hit for bus route scheduling with baby boomers and millennials that rely on public transit as their primary form of transportation.
3.Agencies will break away from their legacy software in 2017 in favor of more cutting-edge technology.
Some transit agencies are still using inefficient, cumbersome, and archaic route scheduling and dispatch software. In 2017, there will be an immense pressure on the transit industry to adapt to the times and implement modern transit software. Transit organizations that have not made the switch will continue to feel the burdens of manual entry and administrative inefficiencies. Modern technology will help agencies realize operational, organizational, and cost efficiencies that have can boost organizational growth and profitability.
4. Many transit agencies that have already made the switch to modern technology will be auditing their new systems to ensure they are getting the most out of the new software.
Even if the new technology is having an immediate impact on an agencies productivity and efficiency, it will be important to take a look into any additional benefits that could be gained with small tweaks to software utilization and potential additions. This is just another major reason to leverage modern technology. The software itself can be molded to adapt to each individual agency.
With the focus on modernizing technology and adapting to changing demographics, 2017 will be a challenging year for the transit industry. If the predictions above hold true, it will also be a big year for advancement in the industry.