CEO Blog: Reflecting on 2023 and looking ahead to 2024
16 December 2023, UK
David Maitland, Vix CEO, reflects on the past year, and how we plan to grow and evolve into 2024 and beyond.
Industry Challenges and Trends
Last year in this blog, I talked about the lingering effects of the pandemic on our industry and the changing patterns of usage in public transport which we are likely to see. I thought that many of the short-term effects of the pandemic would likely have worked their way out of the system by the end of this year, but it is interesting to see that some of those patterns have become the new normal, and this will impact our industry into 2024 and beyond.
There is a continuing change in the pattern of usage of public transport: namely, the decline of the commuter. Employees are actively looking to work from home as companies seek to encourage or compel a return to the office. As a result, the middle of the week has become the normal commuter pattern, and Mondays and Fridays appear to be quieter than a much busier weekend! According to a recent Pews survey, 60% of U.S. workers who say their jobs can be done mainly remotely, are continuing to work from home all or most of the time. This pattern of homeworking may likely persist, especially as we see evidence that employees are actively choosing jobs which enable home working. Agencies and operators can adapt to these usage changes by focusing on passenger loyalty to rebuild volumes and encourage usage.
The current state of the economy, and specifically, tightening public finances and much higher cost of money, will likely have effects on our industry, including:
- A focus on keeping control on operating expenses – with investments likely to be constrained
- Tighter budgets will limit discretionary spending, and therefore the opportunity for innovation
- Industry consolidation as smaller businesses experience working capital constraints, and investors demand higher returns on their investments.
Operators looking to invest in innovation can mitigate some of these increased expenses by looking at ways to integrate with already existing ecosystems, prioritize open and modular architecture and use technology to encourage riders to give up their cars for public transit options.
There also remains a continuing focus on equity, environment and sustainability, and we are starting to see ESG become a tool of innovation. This focus on equity and sustainability will have significant effects on our industry going forward. Enabling equitable transportation will require us to think differently about a whole range of services, including fare costs and structures which are vital to promote social inclusion (a topic we discuss in our whitepaper Fair Fares). We also need to tackle the last mile issue which disproportionately affects disadvantaged people. Vix is currently working on an innovative project that will provide low income riders the ability to use a dual-purpose fare card that helps them build traditional credit scores and find their way into the banking system, which has been challenging for them in the past.
Celebrating our successes
Vix has had another strong year delivering services and solutions for our customers. We’re proud to support their passengers in making safer, more streamlined and smarter use of transport networks. Highlights include:
- Vix delivered an enhanced mobile-first Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) system for Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain Green Line and Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) Yellow Monorail Line.
- Partnered with Transport for Wales to deliver a pilot contactless EMV rail ticketing with Vix Smart Gates.
- Completed the first installment of our Assure device range in the UK, delivering rapid and secure validation for customers using Great Western Railway’s new Cornwall pay-as-you-go smartcard.
- Selected to join a framework agreement with Rejsekort & Rejseplan A/S (RKRP) to help create an integrated mobility solution that connects journey planning, booking and payment on transport across Denmark.
- Deployed new ticketing and validation devices on Edmonton’s Valley Line LRT Southeast, the newest extension of their metropolitan region transit system.
- Collaborated with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to launch an enhanced automated fare collection solution for the Bee Network.
- Launched a new contactless payment system for Västtrafik in Gothenburg, including upgrading our existing 4,500 fare collection and validation devices to enable contactless payments.
- Introduced mobile ticketing for City of Phoenix, ready in time for a major sporting event.
We were also excited to announce the launch of our newest product, Vix Beacon ITS – a groundbreaking Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) solution designed to transform the way transit agencies and operators manage their networks.
Beacon is a complete CAD/AVL solution that enables operators to manage their fleets, assign drivers and track vehicles in real-time.
What of 2024?
Next year we’re delighted to see the completion of major system deployments and enhancements for our customers in Edmonton, Phoenix, Leeds, Manchester, and Belgium.
With strong financial performance to support our innovation investment in Vix Beacon ITS, we’ll be driving more resources into bringing intelligent transport solutions to new customers across Europe and North America over the next 12 months.
Over the next few years we can expect to see a remarkable transformation in public transport systems. Picture a world where buses and trains seamlessly coordinate with each other, reducing travel times and congestion. Imagine intelligent algorithms guiding transportation routes, making the most efficient use of resources and reducing emissions. And envision a future where smart vehicles communicate with each other, creating a network that adapts to traffic conditions in real-time. The opportunities to enable both the step change in efficiency, as well as the passenger experience is all before us with the technology that we have now.
We are only just starting to see how intelligent transportation systems, along with technology such as electric and autonomous vehicles, can be used to improve our cities and the lives of our citizens.
In 2024, we can expect to see an increase in the use of electric and autonomous vehicles, further reducing the environmental impact of transportation. Improved connectivity and data integration will enable passengers to have a more personalized travel experience, with real-time information on routes, schedules, and even seat availability. Additionally, we can start to see some forward thinking cities moving towards a more integrated citizen account which will enable people to access the whole range of city services in a seamless way.
As we look ahead to 2024, it’s clear that public transport will play a key role in shaping the future of mobility. The possibilities are endless, and the future of intelligent public transport promises to be both exciting and transformative.
Vix is well placed to play a major part in these trends over the next few years, and we expect it to be a very exciting place indeed!