There is ever increasing pressures to modernize public transport fleets and services, as new technology keeps bringing advances in both efficiency and sustainability. However, there is a challenge in keeping up due to the parallel need to reduce costs. In this excerpt from the report Digitalization of Public Transport in the Nordics & Baltics, we look at how to manage this balance.
To achieve cost efficiency and reduce environmental impact, the common practice has been to demand more from vehicle suppliers during tenders. To cope with technical failures, Public Transport Operators (PTO) also demand better maintenance, for example through frequent inspections and capabilities to quickly resolve technical failures. Risks of failures are also managed by providing short-term alternative means of travel, by contracting other public transport providers. By having access to more timely and granular vehicle data, these technical failures can often be prevented.
Digital solutions to retrofit existing fleet
To manage the cost and benefit balance, many PTOs take the middle road and digitalize their existing vehicles instead of replacing them. This involves connecting the vehicle’s onboard systems to an onboard edge processor that delivers real-time data to the driver and to the cloud-based transport management systems. This enables a variety of digital functions, including: remote tachograph monitoring, vehicle and location monitoring and driver identification and communication.
The ability to monitor vehicles remotely enables PTOs to manage maintenance in a proactive manner. Rather than relying solely on physical inspections; key indicators are monitored and logged. These can then be measured against performance parameters such as the number of driving hours or the number of open or closed passenger door cycles to determine when maintenance should be carried out.
An example of onboard data usage is eco-driving, a solution that has been deployed for several years in many regions. By giving drivers real-time feedback on how their acceleration, braking and coasting patterns affect fuel consumption, drivers can adapt to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. This also reduces the impact on vehicle mechanics and maintenance. An example of this is Swedish operator Nobina, a company that is reducing fuel consumption by up to 12 percent. Finnish operator Onnibus estimates its potential fuel savings to be 275,000 liters per year.
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Challenges of older fleets - and traditional actions to solve the problems