What the pandemic has taught us all is that what we did pre-pandemic may never be the same. We don’t shop in the same way – in fact, who goes to the shops to actually buy things anymore? We don’t eat the same way. Eating out is nice, sure, but eating food that you didn’t have to cook from any cuisine, sometimes several at once, curled up on your sofa in your PJs is now equally if not more appealing. And booking your cinema tickets for blockbusters the minute the premier starts? Nope, we can watch the exact same film on our sofas in our PJs (there might be a theme here).
Of course, we all still love to go out and it’s that little bit more special considering the last couple of years, but the trend for on-demand, personalised services to our door (and sofas), across all sectors is here to stay. Why shouldn’t the same be for our transport? Why do people need to choose one or two modes of transport and pay a premium for not booking in advance? Why can’t they have what they need, when they need it?
Working 9-5, five days in the office may be a thing of the past but it doesn’t mean people are sitting at home. People are using that time that they might have spent commuting to pursue other interests like going to the gym or seeing friends. The thought of getting on a packed rush-hour train is not appealing to anyone – but a night out on the town? Sure! In order to keep people using public transport or move to cleaner modes of personal mobility, transport providers need to take inspiration from Netflix focusing on value for money, convenience and choice.
Affordable, fixed pricing for unlimited service use
£10 per month for as much box-set binging that your eye-balls can physically stay open for? No one batted an eyelid by being locked into a monthly contract with Netflix because the price set for the volume of content that people were able to access each month was seen as great value for money. This idea of fixed pricing for all the travel people need and want in a certain time frame is the future.
UK cities like London already allow flexible travel across buses and tubes and even some train lines with contactless payment or Oyster cards. TFL have even brought in a cap for adult pay-as-you-go tube and rail customers, giving them the best possible fares for all of their journeys made between Monday and Sunday. Regardless of how often passengers use the tubes or trains, it will never cost more than a weekly travelcard. But what about all of the other UK cities, or people who live in rural communities? Many of these communities still rely on cars.
Inclusive; something for everyone
No matter how obscure your interest, Netflix had a show for it.
All modes of transport, including cars, need to be factored into these travel schemes to be inclusive. The answer certainly doesn’t need to be more personal cars which will add to the ever-growing traffic issues. Traffic figures were back up to pre-pandemic levels if not more on some roads in the summer this year, however the pandemic slowed the progress of car sharing schemes which may start to become more appealing again. And of course, we can’t forget to mention ride-hailing as part of the mix. Public transport is great when you get into city centres but ride-hailing offers an affordable connection for those in more remote locations. Uber is even incentivising its drivers to switch to EV as part of its own sustainability commitments; ride-hailing doesn’t need to add to the demise of our planet.
The future of travel is on-demand
With no advertising and millions of programmes nicely packaged up into watch lists or genres, Netflix was arguably the pioneer of mass-market, television content on-demand. With everything else going on-demand in and out of our homes, why can’t this be applied to all types of travel, including cars?
It’s widely accepted that most people’s cars sit idle 95% of the time but with companies like ZoomEV offering a range of electric cars from £65 combined with brilliant technology that harnesses data in real-time to tell you where the nearest free charging station is, Zap Map, means access to an EV is both affordable and hugely convenient. While EV infrastructure still needs significant development, city Mayors should consider planning more out of town park and rides schemes where every space has a charging station. This combination of private and public transport is more inclusive as it connects those outside of urban areas and keeps congestion out of cities. There is no one-size-fits-all but providing a wide range of transport options, both personal and public, that are convenient and affordable, is a sure way to mobilise all parts of the UK in a sustainable way.