The role of passenger-centric innovation in the future of public transport

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - urban, mode - rail, planning - service quality, planning - service improvement, technology - passenger information


Public transport innovation, Passenger-centric innovation, Service quality, Experience economy, Affective design, Interaction design


Although hard factors such as availability, efficiency, safety, and comfort make up the core of the public transport quality of service, they are only a part of the bigger picture. This bigger picture is modified and shaped daily, where the increasing permeation of technology creates new possibilities for passengers to experience their journeys. Despite technology becoming ubiquitous in public transport, it has had only limited impact on how passengers connect affectively and symbolically with the service. This “affective gap” is at the core of what differentiates private and public transport. Being able to reduce this gap is therefore valuable to passengers and public transport service providers alike. In this paper, we build on existing and ongoing work to discuss the relevance of a passenger-centric approach to innovation in the field of public transport. This passenger-centric approach puts passengers at the centre of future solutions, where their evolving needs, desires, and values are used to guide how to enhance the existing core functionality of the service. To test our hypothesis that passenger-centric innovation is valuable to passengers and advantageous to service providers alike, we put forward a review on how innovation is being approached in both the aviation and car industries. This review is supported by our own insights, which have been based on data collected from urban rail commuters in Australia. We further support our argument by looking at particular examples of innovation in the field of public transport, and discussing the existing barriers and drivers that can, respectively, hinder or propel passenger-centric innovation.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SpringerLink, copyright remains with them.