Impacts of the digitalisation of transport services on mobility

Anne Durand, researcher at KiM , has started since the beginning of April a part-time PhD research at TU Delft on the theme of digital divide in transport. She will investigate who might experience difficulties in transport services because of low access to digital tools or low digital skills, and the contribution of this digital exclusion to transport-related exclusion.

Digital technologies everywhere

Over the past few decades, the adoption and increase in use of digital technologies, from personal computers to Internet and mobile connectivity, has become a major trend. This trend is called digitalisation. "In transport, digitalisation has multiple visible manifestations, such as smart cards, route planning websites, real-time travel information applications and online ride-sourcing platforms", says Anne. “It has also less visible manifestations, such as the massive amount of data collected by various sensors and connected devices."

Anne Durand

A wide spectrum of social outcomes

These new technologies have the potential to bring about positive social outcomes. Anne explains: "We already know that they can increase the autonomy of impaired people in public transport or in private cars, or contribute to optimise the route of buses to better address the mobility needs of rural communities. ''

Still, a major challenge of 'going digital' is that not everyone may be able to follow the transformation pace, especially when digitalisation is accompanied by cuts or changes in physical infrastructure and services. Anne illustrates: "Getting access to (real-time) travel information in public transport is often considerably faster with a device connected to the Internet, but owning a smartphone is not given to anyone, and knowing how to use it can also potentially be a barrier. Meanwhile, timetables in booklets are gone."

Who is concerned?

"In an era where the transport system relies increasingly on the use of technologies by its users, are we leaving behind some people? ", Anne continues. "If so, who are they? While travelling without such technologies is still conceivable, the lack of digital know-how and tools could translate into missed opportunities. Since social inclusion is one of the key aspects of the mobility policy of the Netherlands, this topic is particularly relevant to investigate."

In her research, Anne will focus on non-private forms of transport, from public transport to special transport services and shared mobility modes. Her supervisor will be Serge Hoogendoorn, KiM-fellow  and professor at the Transport and Planning department of the Civil Engineering and Geosciences faculty, TU Delft. Anne's daily supervisor at the TU Delft is Smart Public Transport Lab co-director Niels van Oort . Her daily supervisors at the KiM are Sascha Hoogendoorn-Lanser and Toon Zijlstra .