European Passengers Forum, 20 March 2010, Malmö
Gerhard Wennerström, Managing Director, Samtrafiken
I have a dream
I have a dream of one day seeing a man standing on a chair, I have a dream of one day seeing a woman standing on a chair. I have a dream of being a happy passenger.
I am Gerhard Wennerström. I have been connecting people for several years. First for quite a few years at Nokia and for the last 8 years I have been in the Public Transport industry. Today I am the Managing Director of Samtrafiken, a collaboration company in Sweden owned by both the Public Transport Authorities as well as the Public Transport Operators.
I´m a long distance commuter. My 2½ hour door to door experience from home to office contains local transport as well as long distance train. My years at Nokia included quite a lot of international travel. One can say that I´m an experienced passenger, a passenger that on a daily basis can see, hear and feel how the public transport system is functioning, a passenger that is in a favored position to have the opportunity to work with making the life of passengers easier.
134 years of knowledge
At Samtrafiken and companies related to us, we have been working with customer information regarding public transport for 134 years (1876). The first 119 years only with printed material and the last 15 years with customer information on the net as well as published in print.
We have a database with 60 thousands PT stops in it, a database containing traffic from all PTAs and PTOs in Sweden, a database answering hundreds of thousands queries every day.
You may ask?
I have full respect that you find it self-evident that all of us in the public transport industry should have the passenger in focus. Why do we even need to have conferences reminding the industry not to forget the passengers. Why are they always just talking about the passengers.
Market economy generally and the consumer market specifically is based on trademarks. Trademarks for companies and trademarks for products are needed to deliver feelings, trademarks are needed to build loyalty and trademarks are needed to build trust.
Look at the flight-industry where we have for instance SAS that is a part of Star Alliance. Star Alliance partners are members of IATA. But that is not all. For low cost lines SAS has Blue1. And to enhance their own product offering they have code sharing with a lot of companies e.g. Lufthansa. Trademarks, trademarks, trademarks
A question you can place is if passenger travel pattern is based on trademarks or on needs?
All of us are individuals. Individuals with individual needs. We can be skillful travelers in one place and total strangers in another place. We can be busy businessmen in one situation and relaxed holiday travelers in another situation. We can be fast and agile, moving on our own one day and clumsy and slow, moving in a group another day.
Two days ago in Brussels I chose to walk to the hotel in the evening because I didn´t know how to buy a metro ticket. When I commute to Stockholm I don’t care what seat I get, but when I take my family to Stockholm the most important thing is that we get a four-seater with a table.
Am I a 44 year old straight white male in all my travel situations? Probably yes. But did I get individual information on how to use public transport on my business trip to Brussels where the cost for the metro ticket is of non existing importance but knowing which line to take to my hotel and the ability to pay with credit card was of outmost importance? I needed some fresh air so I walked but in all too many situations taxi is the answer.
The American dream is freedom. The American dream was answered by the car industry. A car gives you freedom to move wherever you like whenever you desire. And for those poor people that cannot afford a car you offer public transport. Unfortunately a lot of people still have this interpretation of public transport.
But what happens when you ask the young adults today. For them it’s freedom not to be tied to a car and to choose whether to have a car license or not, the car license penetration in urban areas is decreasing. For them it’s freedom to choose their carbon footprint when they travel. For them it’s freedom to choose whether to live in Malmö or Copenhagen.
In the ‘80s there was a customer in every individual, in the ‘90s an individual in every customer. Now we have individual needs in every specific situation.
At Samtrafiken we consolidate all traffic information. We are independent and present the information to the passengers. We present the information through own and third party channels.
There is a lot of further development to be done to meet the individual needs for the individual traveler and I am glad to announce a couple of things that will happen.
- The board of Samtrafiken has decided to give me the task to develop a “book and buy-button” in our information channels. The objective is that travelers seeking for independent information do not need to enter another system after they have found the journey they want to make.
- Samtrafiken is about to enter a collaboration project with Norrlandsresan where we will pilot new features like
- a reachability function showing how far you can travel from one place in e.g. one hour
- a meetingplanner function optimizing when to set meetings enabling people to use public transport
- a function to inform you on your unique trip
By doing this we want to enhance the upcoming competition by the positive things regarding deregulation like creativity in service, attractive pricing and good timetables, at the same time as we want to minimize the drawbacks like uncertainty, fragmented market and sub optimization.
Samtrafiken is carrying the independent trademark representing independent information.
Samtrafiken wants to serve the individuals with information about local, regional and long distance traffic. In areas you know as well as in areas you don’t know. In familiar situations as well as in unfamiliar situations.
Who am I to tell which company’s customer you should be? My task is to present the whole national public transport network to attract new customers into the system as well as letting the public transport customers see the variety of choice existing on the market.
LIVE Examples showing ResRobot (www.resrobot.se)
– trademarks mix brought by competition (Malmö – Helsingborg)
– long distance mix with train, car, air including local transport (Konserthuset – KTH)
My dream of being a happy passenger will be fulfilled one day when we have winter chaos in the traffic, when I sit in a full waiting hall at Linköping Central Station at 6 in the morning an no train is there, when I see a man or woman stepping on a chair, a man or woman in true flesh and blood stepping on a chair, getting the audience attention saying: I´m SJ. You are my customers. I understand that many of you will miss your meetings today, I understand that you are disappointed, but I do what I can to sort out the situation this day when we unfortunately have faced this and this problem. Passengers need to see, passengers need to hear, passengers need to feel that we care!