Public Transit

Reinventing an Industry One Coffee Bean at a Time – One Bus at a Time?

All industries face times of prosperity and scarcity, but radical changes are what define them. Game-changers have shaped the world we live in. Technology enterprises have changed over the last few years, but who would have thought that something millions of people were already familiar with –coffee- could turn into an enjoyable and even attractive experience? The nowadays almost ubiquitous coffee shop, Starbucks, changed how coffee is consumed. Is it crazy to think public transport could follow some of these same steps and reinvent its service? For sure, there is something transport planners could learn.

Starbucks’ experience is a knowledge-goldmine for those who are trying to reinvent a product or a service due to it’s concept, training and strategy. Through a careful analysis of each step, public transport could also benefit from this world renowned case study. Simple questions can help reveal a forgotten potential of the service millions of people spend hours on each day. Going back to the original concept, telling a story and deeply knowing, and relating, to the final customer, seem to be the initial steps to follow.

1. What does the concept of public transport mean?

Public transport is a service that goes beyond the simple –but somehow incomplete- “from A to B” concept. When well planned, it could mean flexibility, freedom and even financial savings for families around the globe. It could turn into an enjoyable experience and go from something we have to do, to something we choose to do.

2. What story does public transport tell?

A city, its shape and its history all create a unique environment and that determines the mood for public transport. Transit systems are part of something bigger. Museums, memorable streets and plazas are connected through transit. What are we, as a city, proud of? What is the best way to navigate our city?

3. Who uses public transport?

Global trends such as less teenagers getting their driver’s license as soon as they are allowed to, or people selling their cars and turning to shared vehicle systems, are shaping the world. These behaviors show a change in priorities and a new set of challenges and opportunities. What do people value today? What are their priorities?

Learning from diverse industries, and especially from game-changers, opens our minds and allows us to see what we have always looked at in a different way. Transport planners, and through them, citizens around the world, would benefit from additional knowledge about coffee beans, tennis shoes or even jewelry. Just a little bit more about creating a fulfilling experience, loyalty, and a sense of belonging can go a long way.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

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