An Analysis of Public Transport

An Analysis of Public Transport by the unemployed professors


            Public transport is arguably the large, widely used and recognized industry across the world. Nearly all if not all people use products of the industry or are employed in this industry. There are many forms of public transport from air, road to rail. This document discusses the competitive environment around the industry, its financial aspects and some of the latest technological trends and advancements in the industry from a more general perspective and not a specific form of public transport.

The Competitive Environment

            Public transport, unlike most industries is widely distributed. This is mainly because of the high demand for transport in all the regions of the world. In the US, according to data gathered Association of Public Transportation Association (APTA) in November 2015 in its Public Transportation Fact Book, the leading transit agency based on the number of unlinked passenger trips and passenger miles was the MTA New York City Transit followed by Chicago Transit Authority (See in the appendix I). Contribution of the public transportation of the economy of any country can never be underrated. The sector creates job opportunities directly leading economic growth and helps shape the environment. A survey by APTA on the economic impact of public transport industry indicated that over a duration of 20 years, on average, a 1-billion-dollar investment has the potential of generating about $3.7 billion of GDP per year. It further reports that a 1$ billion capital investment per year has capacity to support nearly 15, 900 jobs. The US Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in its 2015 Transportation Statistics Annual Report, stated that in 2013, the transport industry accounted for about $1.4 trillion in purchases and investment (approximately 8.6 of US GDP). It also states that an amount of $125.7 billion was spend in transportation construction in 2014.

            A recent study by Business RoundTable established that the American Transport system is “old”, overstretched and “underperforming”. It further points out that investment in by the government in transport infrastructure is less than sufficient to enable expansion of the transport system to meet future demands (See appendix II for graphical data). Among the top economies in the world, the US ranked 16th in ranking based on quality of transport infrastructure. While this points to a possible investment opportunity, the report warns that this is not easy. This was attributed to the fact that operation, maintenance and investment was shared among many stakeholders including the federal, state and local government as well as private organizations.

The Public Transport Industrial Environment by the unemployed professors

            The transport industry has customers across all social divides with transit agencies and other transit service providers also spread out in most parts of the country. The distributive nature of public transport enables players with both small and large investment capacities. As a result of this, a vast section of the population is served. Distributiveness also contribute to the relative market stability witnessed in the transport sector in general.

Standardization bodies in Public Transport

            Currently, there is no widely acknowledged transportation standardizing body that cuts across all the varied forms of transport. However, individual forms of transport such as air transport have standardizing bodies with sets regulations to supplement those available at the state level. In almost all the other forms, individual countries take the charge of forming standards to govern the industries locally. In the United States, APTA is mandated with the role of developing standards for the public transport industry with the goal of ensuring safety, efficiency and general improvement of the sector through laying out of best practices. Regarding technology in transportation, APTA has an IT Working Group that develops documents to help transit operations determine the best available quality cameras which also comply with available standards. The Transit Communications Interface Profiles (TCIP), is an APTA standard which avails mechanisms for different transit agencies to share valuable information.

Innovations and Trends in Public Transport as explained by the unemployed professors

            One of the promising technological innovations is the public transport sector is the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). ITS is a new model of the transport sector which factors in not only moving vehicles but pedestrians and message signs as well. This new technology greatly improves the performance of transport systems by maximizing the available resources. ITS technology is already under use in Singapore, Japan and South Korea. The United States is yet to install this technology in its transport system. The Department of Transportation has laid out the so called ITS 2015 -2019 Strategic Plan through which research would be carried out leading to development and the final adoption of ITS across the states.

            Another form of technology the transport empowering the sector is the use of real-time information systems. Due to the growing demand of real-time updates on information about flight departures, bus arrival times and much more, the transport industry has turned to other forms of communication such as the internet to enable them deliver better and efficient services. Yet another form of technology employed to aid in road transport information systems is the Vehicular Ad-hoc Networks (VARNETs). VARNETs allow vehicles within certain proximity to form a network over which they share real-time traffic information.

            In a bid to make transportation reliable and efficient, transport agencies have turned to the existing communication networks and other forms of information technology to avail important transit news and alerts. Majority of transport agencies have their service information readily available on their websites. Software developers have also made a huge impact on the improvement of public transport service delivery. Transport agencies nowadays use route planning, scheduling and optimization software to cut down operational costs. Software that lets customers transact online is also widely used in the industry. Today, there are hundreds of smartphone applications designed to assist passengers and other users of public transport be up to date with transport service of their choice. For instance, Embark, is a popular app in New York that helps users find metro stops in their vicinity. It also displays the best route and expected train arrival times.

            The recent campaign on climate change is also having a significant impact in the transport industry as a whole. The report by US Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimated that the transport industry accounts for about 70.5 percent of the total petroleum consumption. This makes the industry the highest contributor to global warming. Because of this, manufacturers who want to stay ahead of the rest in the motor industry are investing heavily in non-carbon emitting forms of transport such as electric cars and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV). FCVs use hydrogen as fuel and emit only water vapor instead of carbon. Toyota is one of the leading manufactures of the FCVs. The company has sold approximately 1, 000 of its 2016 Mirai FCVs (See picture in appendix) and is as part of expanding its market, it is building about 34 hydrogen fuel cell stations in California.

            In the quest to make transportation safer and more efficient, some of the world’s leading innovators are designing the next line of unmanned vehicles. An average of 300, 000 lives are lost in a decade due to accidents on the road (Mandy Donovan, 2016). One leading expert in the field of driverless cars is Google Inc. these autonomous cars are driven by robots equipped with artificial intelligence that mimics that of human. The advantage of these vehicles is that it would be easier for them to form complex networks of sensors and other wireless communication technologies over which vital transport information can be shared. A world of interconnected cars is a concept already under research. A team of scientists at the Oak Ridge National Library are working on developing algorithms that would facilitate the interconnection and communication between vehicles.

            unemployed professors points that another form of public transport in the 21st century is the use of robots to deliver purchased products to customers. A leader in the use of drone delivery is Amazon. This form of delivery is not only cost effective but relatively reliable compared to delivery via road which often is a challenge in cities and towns with large traffic density. A research conducted by scholars at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Amazon’s usage of drones indicates that drone delivery costs about $0.05 operating 14 hours of the day, less costly compared to UPS delivery at about $0.07 working 10hours a day. And with the cost of drones expected to drop in the coming years, this would make drone business lucrative and therefore attract more investment.

            Other forms of technology powering the transport industry include the Global Positioning System (GPS), a navigation system whose custodian is the U.S. Department of Defence, Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), Smart Cards, Collision Warning Systems, Automatic Highway Systems (AHS), Advanced Air Traffic Control (ATC) amongst many more (Elizabeth Deakin & Songju Kin, 2001).

References as provided by the unemployed professors

Steven Beningo, Matthew Chambers, Chester Ford, Kenneth Notis, Mindy Lui (2016). National Transportation Statistics. U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Statistics Annual Report 2015 (Washington, DC:2016).

Glen Weisbrod, Arlee Reno (2009). Economic Impact of Transportation Investment.

Business Roundtable (2015). Road to Growth: The Case for Investing in America’s Transportation Infrastructure.

Stephen Ezell (2010). The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

Welch, Adrienne (2015). A cost-benefit analysis of Amazon Prime Air. Department of Honors Theses. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Elizabeth Deakin and Songju Kim (2001). Transportation Technologies: Implications for Planning.


Appendix I

Figure 1 Screen capture of American Public Transportation Association Fact Book data

Appendix II

Figure 2 Facts about the quality of U.S. Transportation Infrastructure.

Appendix III

Figure 3 The 2016 Toyota Mirai FCV, recent innovation in the auto industry. The vehicle uses hydrogen and fuel and emits water vapor. Image courtesy of Wikipedia, Toyota Mirai.

Appendix IV Figure 4 Screenshots of a smartphone