These are pivotal times for public transport. The landscape is changing rapidly as the sector looks to leave the impact of COVID-19 behind and boldly embrace the future.


The traditional model of public transport service delivery is being challenged as never before. New market entrants are changing the last-mile equation through enhanced services and convenient new offerings. Priorities are shifting as decision-makers listen to the voices of their constituents and look beyond the operation of transport infrastructure, fleets and workforce to fully consider the advantages of a connected 21st-century ecosystem.

The signals of change are powerful and unmistakeable.

In a commissioned survey conducted by Forrester Consulting, KPMG International engaged 483 leaders from public transportation organisations across the globe to understand their perspectives on the sector’s future.

The report explores the potential that a connected public transport system has in forging powerful enterprise-wide business and delivery models that can drive excellent customer experience, while enhancing efficiency and contributing to a prosperous future. 

Explore the signals of change below and download the full report to see what leaders from around the world are predicting for the future of public transport.

6 signals of change

Today’s connected and mobile citizens expect public transport agencies to develop and deliver existing and new services safely, efficiently and digitally. Increasing expectations of reliability and digital-first interactions were cited in our survey as customer-related factors with the greatest potential to change the transport landscape. Citizens expect personalisation, empathy, to be kept informed and to be heard. 

Public transport is increasingly seen as an avenue to connect individuals to employment opportunities and drive economic growth. Some countries and states are exploring alternative city planning concepts such as “15-minute cities” to manage future demand and help improve equity across the network. This concept has significant impacts on land use, infrastructure and public transport planning. Services can also be priced to ensure equal access for low-income earners and individuals from low socioeconomic communities.

The need to decarbonise and minimise pollution is becoming central to public transport and place planning for the future. More than half (58%) of public transport organisations are investing or have included investment in their capital plans for ESG priorities. Many countries are investing in electrification of transport fleets as part of efforts to decarbonise. Some are paving the way for more attractive and alternative vehicle technologies, while promoting walking, cycling and public transport.

Six in 10 leaders surveyed say their organisations are currently investing (28%) or have included investment in capital plans (33%) towards the utilisation of exciting new travel modes, AI, IoT and other technologies to enable seamless services and experiences, deliver safe and secure travel and reduce customer costs. Emerging travel modes such as flying taxis, autonomous vehicles and ferries, e-bikes and hyperloops — and the wider adoption of driverless high-speed trains and smart roads — are significant signals of change as to how services could be delivered in the future.

Some modelling has suggested that the cost of using shared automated vehicles could be significantly lower than owning a traditional vehicle and comparable with public transport fares. This reinforces the need for decision-makers to continue taking costs out of their systems, expand non-fare-box revenue and increase ease of use. More strategically, decision-makers should consider changing the public transport paradigm from competitive and monopolistic systems to models that integrate new mobility providers into a financially coherent and integrated transport ecosystem.

New technologies and business models are providing exciting new opportunities for public transport innovation. To support and drive changes, regulations should foster innovation that is truly beneficial to society while mitigating risk. Regulatory regimes will need to become more dynamic, with an outcome and risk-based outlook, and transport authorities will have to take a more-proactive approach to reviewing and developing regulations.

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