SOCIETY | Feb 19, 2020

Public transport: from data analysis to a possible improvement?

How technology helps to improve public transport. The merits, shortcomings and expectations of passengers in the annual Moovit report.

How much of our time do we spend waiting for public transport? How many minutes of our life do we spend in a train, bus, public tram going to work or to study? But above all, what are the data we must analyze in order to understand how digital technologies can help us improve the livability of our cities? These questions are answered by the annual report prepared by Moovit, the developer of one of the most widely used urban mobility apps, which has processed data on user travel in 99 metropolitan areas and 25 different countries around the world.

How long do we wait at a public transport stop?

If we look at Italy, the Moovit report assigns the title of worst performer to Palermo and Trapani, where the average waiting time reaches 24 minutes, compared with 22 minutes in Naples, 16 minutes in Rome, 13 minutes in Asti and Turin, 10 minutes in Venice and Florence to then reach Milan, Genoa and Savona, cities where you waste less time at the stop, with only 9 minutes of waiting. If we make a more extensive comparison with other capitals, it is Rome that “wins” the record in terms of poor efficiency, since the average waiting time ranges from 12 in New York to 11 in Madrid, Paris and Berlin, 10 in London and 9 in Barcelona.

How many minutes of the day does it take to reach the destination by public transport?

In this case too, the record, for the worse, is held by the capital of Italy with an average of 52 minutes needed to move from home to work or study. A figure however that is not too far apart from New York, where the time spent in a means of transport is even greater (54 minutes), Paris (49), Madrid (46) or Barcelona (36). Returning to Italy, the times are different for Naples (46 minutes), Milan (43), Turin and Asti (41), Venice (38), Florence, Palermo and Trapani (36), Bologna (35), up to the more favorable positions of Genoa and Savona, where only 33 minutes of life are spent on board each day.

How many kilometers are travelled by users?

In addition to the waiting time, it is interesting to analyze through the Moovit Report the average distances covered for an outward journey ranging from 9 km in Naples, 8.5 in Venice, about 8 in Milan and almost 7 in Rome, to then reach the city where the distances covered are shorter, namely Florence with just over 4.5 and Palermo and Trapani with 3.9.

How much are micro-mobility means used such as bike sharing and scooter sharing?

The novelty in the latest Moovit report is the section specifically dedicated to “alternative” means, such as bike sharing, scooter sharing and electric scooters, which are already a reality in many Italian cities. In Europe, the top places in the use of these means of transport, at least 3 times a week, are Barcelona and Paris (with 10% of citizens using micro-mobility transport) and Berlin and Birmingham (11%). If we look at Italy, on the other hand, Genoa and Savona (3%), Venice (2.8%), Florence (2.6%) and Milan (2%) are the top ones with the same frequency. There are still many people (on average more than 75%) who state they do not want to use this type of urban mobility transport, despite the fact that there are services of this kind in the city.

What would encourage the use of public transport?

If we look at Italian data, the report speaks of a majority of people (16%) who would like less waiting time at the stop and a greater frequency of the means of transport, 13% who would like the frequency schedules shown in the time tables to be respected and 11.5% who would like to use less crowded public means of transport. The economic aspect is certainly important, since 9% of Moovit respondents says they would like cheaper fares, and the time factor for getting to work or study, since 8.5% said they would be attracted by shorter waiting times at the stop or by preferential lanes which would allow them to move faster than private transport. The need to buy a ticket faster, for example through a smartphone, or to have available convenient services such as USB chargers at stops or a greater on-board comfort are still not a priority in Italy (3.4%).

“When we talk about public transport – says Carmine Rossin, Head of Transportation & Infrastructures Business Unit of Engineering – we need to pay close attention to issues related to environmental sustainability. In this context we are working, also in collaboration with Moovit, on a platform able to activate flexible DRT services, reducing waiting times to a minimum and making services much more efficient and usable. A service that is particularly useful even in areas of weak demand, where the provision of traditional transport services often becomes difficult and costly”.