Across most industries, technology has provided great advancements resulting in a raise in customer expectations. Most people now have access to instant information so, when expectations aren’t met, there is an immediate way to make their dissatisfaction known. Things are no different in the rail industry: for years the norm was maintained with Passenger Information Systems (PIS) left unchanged, often not fit for purpose. Old PA systems still in use today don’t always match the information on screens (if indeed screens are fitted to the train); legacy systems exist where information is fixed and can’t be updated in cases of delays or journey alterations; and there is rarely any contextually-aware information available on such systems.
This begs the question, if systems aren’t providing accurate information, what are they there for? Now that everyone knows what can be achieved with technology, suppliers must ensure that they are delivering what’s expected for the benefit of TOCs and their passengers.
So, what do train operating companies expect? They expect efficiency: a system which can effectively and seamlessly integrate with an array of existing technology. An easy install process which doesn’t require excessive disruption to the fleet. A simple to operate system so that unreasonable extra work isn’t forced upon their staff. They expect a system that can fit the limited available space and keep up with ever-changing regulations on passenger accessibility.
Once all of these expectations have been met, we look to the expectation of the TOC’s customers and what they expect from their transport provider. There are now a multitude of platforms available from which to get information about each aspect of a journey.
For the occasional passenger it could all start online to research train times and ticket prices, then perhaps a local bus provider’s website for routes to the railway station. Or perhaps the station website in search of parking information. If onward transport is required that could mean another visit to a different bus provider’s website, or using a search engine for a local taxi phone number.
Once the journey has begun many passengers use social media for service updates, keeping an eye out for delays or changes. Of course, once a passenger is at the station and on the train there’s also the PA system and information screens, each often offering their own version of “real time” information. Somewhere amongst all of these contradictory information feeds, the passenger might get a little frustrated at the lack of cohesion. Not to mention if midway through their journey another passenger boards the train and they discover they are sitting in a reserved seat.
If onboard information screens are available, they must be truly dynamic. Confusion can be avoided by integrating passenger loading/seat reservation information with journey progress and location information.
Passengers should be able to rely on the information they are given. If they are told that the onboard facilities are fully functional, they ought to be able to rely on the accuracy of that information. Passengers should not have to second guess the notice that the lifts are operational only to find that they then have to struggle upstairs with a bike or pushchair.
There is no shortage of information available: data is generated through almost everything we do. The challenge is to intelligently collate the information and deliver it reliably, adjust it dynamically and redistribute it in Real Time so that the relevance isn’t lost through delay. Gone are the days where pre-programmed, disconnected systems will suffice: expectations demand more. Passengers demand more and therefore TOCs, need to demand more from their system providers.
Enhanced, contextually-aware, on-board information is a reality. It can transform a passenger’s journey and relieve pressure from staff. TOCs need to know that the system they are installing is going to be a convenient aid to the service they provide, not a hindrance that takes more management, time and effort. A good PIS should be an extension of the TOC’s overall service. Something that is adaptable, with branding options, modified to meet each TOC’s needs and able to comply with their standards and values.
This is where KeTech takes over; there is no other on-board information provider who intelligently coordinates the needs and expectations of the TOC and passenger. KeTech has proven that it is the only provider who can reliably deliver such a dynamic and enhanced system, and TOCs using KeTech systems have experienced a clear rise in operational efficiency and overall customer satisfaction.