Technology Record - Issue 33: Summer 2024

113 Nederlandse Spoorwegen has used Microsoft Azure services to develop an app that notifies passengers about the level of crowdedness on trains “Public transit networks in many urban areas were built decades ago, so the infrastructure is old, making it more prone to failure, expensive to maintain and difficult to replace,” says Priest. “Many of these networks haven’t received the investments necessary to cope with the increasing numbers of people who have moved to the urban areas since they were first built either. For example, the rail tracks might not extend to newer suburbs, leaving some inhabitants unable to easily access the service. Issues such as passenger safety and overcrowding are also becoming more important to resolve as passenger numbers continue to grow.” Consequently, says Priest, city leaders and public transportation providers must find creative ways to scale up their networks to enable them to serve everyone safely, reliably and equitably. The organisations can take immediate steps to improve services and make longerterm investments in physical infrastructure. In addition, they must adapt to meet the everevolving demands of public transport users. “People want public transport systems that are predicatable, safe, reliable and easy to use,” says Priest. “If someone is taking a bus, they want to know where to get on, what time it will arrive, how long it will take to reach their destination and how much it will cost. They also expect the bus to turn up on time and to have a safe, seamless journey with no major disruptions. While everyone understands that incidents happen, they don’t want to use public transport systems where services are frequently delayed or cancelled. And when a delay does happen, passengers want to know as soon as possible so they can plan an alternative route.” People also want to be able to switch easily between different modes of transport depending on which is most convenient at the time. “Currently, this is difficult to do in many towns and cities where services such as the bus, train, metro and taxis are all operated by different independent entities,” says Priest. “Ideally, we’d make it as easy as possible for people to switch between different forms of transport, offering PUBLIC SECTOR Photo: Nederlandse Spoorwegen