Call for contracts to favour innovation

November 1 2017   | Region: Cymru Wales, East Midlands, East of England, London, North East & Cumbria, North West, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South East, South West, West Midlands, Yorkshire & the Humber

Call for contracts to favour innovation
Public transport operator contracts must place more emphasis on rewarding bidders who propose innovative mobility solutions, a conference heard yesterday.
 
International public transport association UITP’s chairman Stefan Hulman told the Intelligent Transport event in London: “When awarding contracts the best thing is not to award based on the bottom line, but based on the innovation ambitions an operator has for public transport or mobility systems.
 
“There is a role for authorities to change the governance of public transport in such a way that it is possible for operators to make money and contribute to innovation,” he added.
 
Session moderator Mark Cartwright of public transport community group RTIG remarked that placing an emphasis on developing innovation in operator contracts might be “hard to square” when it comes to procurement regulations. He added that once a contract is signed, there is unlikely to be much leverage in enforcing promises made in what is a changing environment.
 
Stefan Hulman replied: “Either you go the same way as before and face the same issues, or make a change to really improve public transport and mobility. Let’s face those procurement issues and do something.”
 
He was asked how important technological innovation is to the transport sector. “It is vital for the development of services that meet passengers’ needs,” Stefan replied. “The need for innovation is very great.”
 
Transport Scotland’s head of concessionary travel and integrated ticketing Gordon Hanning told the conference that operators may feel there is too much risk in investing in one technology and are unlikely to want to back “something they may later regret”.
 
He said that a government’s role is to be at the heart of discussions regarding innovation and advise where necessary. “We need to find ways of innovating and keeping apace of things like other industries do. But how we do that at a time of fiscal constraint is challenging.”
 
Rail operator Govia Thameslink’s innovation manager for customer information Jason Durk said he recognises that customers want operators to run a service and innovate as well, but cash is tight and they have to “cut their cloth accordingly”.
 
He added that the railway environment can be “stilted” and that people sometimes view it “as a bit archaic”. He went on: "For rail companies, funding is an issue and the franchise model doesn’t lead us to innovate and develop slick solutions for our customers to use.”
 
♦ Innovation is the theme of Transportation Professional’s November / December issue, published in two weeks. 
 
(Photo: Transport Systems Catapult)

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