The smart mobility technology from rolling stock manufacturer Hitachi Rail is being trialled in the city of Genoa, Italy. Hitachi has digitally connected a whopping 663 buses, 2,500 bus stops, the metro line — which is used by 15 million people per year — two funiculars, a historic hillside railway, 10 public lifts and two suburban bus routes that span some 31 miles. And via their iOS or Android app, users also have the power to easily hire an electric car, pay for parking, and even find an electric moped to ride.
Thanks to Hitachi’s “360Pass” smart ticketing app, traditional paper tickets are no longer needed in Genoa — as is both the tedium of “touching in and out” at different stops, and having to download multiple apps for different transport services.
The app works by connecting with Bluetooth sensors placed around Genoa’s vast public transport system, allowing operator AMT to know when a user has boarded a given means of transport, how far they travelled and where and when they disembarked.
Furthermore, the system is “multi-modal” — meaning that travellers can take different forms of transport as they go, while ensuring that they only end up paying the best possible fare for their journey come the end of the day.
With the 360Pass app, users can access more personalised information about their planned journeys, including seeing the fastest routes and getting real-time status updates.
As part of this, travellers can even check how busy bus services are before they travel, allowing them to select less crowded services for either comfort or public health reasons.
In fact, a recent independent survey of passengers by the London-based research institute Transport Focus found that anxiety over crowding post-Covid was the second biggest determinant of passenger satisfaction.
Hitachi Rail’s Group Head of Smart Ticketing, Alessandro de Grazia, said: “Hitachi’s Lumada Intelligent Mobility Management suite is a world first for smart mobility and can improve urban transport in cities around the world.
“For the first time, passengers can plan and access the most convenient multi-modal journey for the cheapest fare, without ever removing their phone from their pockets.
“Today, cities face the challenges of growing public transport use to reduce emissions, cut congestion and boost their recoveries.
“Our new solutions — proven in Genoa — provide a uniquely powerful platform for operators.
“Across the UK — from London to Glasgow, and Birmingham to Manchester — we can help operations connect, scale and optimise their entire transportation network through a single platform.”
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The fact that the concept has already proved so successful in Genoa — a city with both a complex mix of public transport types and a challenging geography — means that it should be possible to apply to any city around the world.
According to Hitachi, the plan now is to roll out their smart mobility solutions and 360Pass apps on a city-by-city basis in partnership with local transportation authorities and operators.
The Bluetooth sensors the system relies on, they explained, are powered by batteries that last for around five years — and took only six months to install in the first place.
Once set up, the mobility suite’s “360Motion” platform allows transport operators to create a digital twin of a city’s entire public transport network and facilitate flow management by highlighting issues like congestion, crowding or service gaps.
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360Pass is being delivered in tandem not only with AMT but also the Municipality of Genoa, who are supporting the system as part of a wider drive to boost the usage of both public transport and private e-hire services within the city, thereby tackling both congestion and emission together.
AMT President Marco Beltrami said: “GoGoGe, the name we chose in Genoa for Hitachi’s 360Pass app, offers a unique travel experience to our customers with the game-changing hands-free technology.
“We can follow our customers throughout their journey, across all transport systems, getting a clear picture of their end-to-end journey.
“Deploying Hitachi’s technology is a great opportunity for both AMT and the city of Genoa to be a leader in smart mobility and test innovative technologies that will make a big difference to travel in cities around the world.”