International Bus Conference speakers share their thoughts: Amos Haggiag of Optibus

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This year, UITP will once again join forces with our collaborators at Busworld to host the International Bus Conference 2019 (Brussels, 21-23 October) – the world’s biggest event dedicated to the bus.

There are many interesting and important developments happening with the bus and to place a much-welcomed spotlight on the industry, UITP began our “Story of the Bus” this summer, marking 100 days until the sector embarks in Brussels.

Setting off from UITP in July, we have informed and updated the sector on the latest innovations and advancements with the release of five brand new bus publications.

Now, as we make the final part of our journey towards our Conference, we’re stopping off at the side of the road to meet and greet a selection of our international speakers and panellists…

What better way to get to know what we can look forward to during the 2019 International Bus Conference than a sit-down with our speakers?

We started getting to know our speakers with Renée Amilcar, Executive Director of Bus for Societe De Transport De Montreal and Chair of the UITP Bus Division, a Vice President of UITP and member of UITP’s Executive Board…

Then we met Johan Holstein, Development Executive for Arriva, London, UK and Antonio Manuel Domingues Pires, COO/CTO of Carris, Lisbon, Portugal. 

Up next is Amos Haggiag, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Office of Optibus, Israel.

Amos, you have an extensive background in technology with Microsoft, Siemens and Collarity (during his career Amos architected online ad targeting systems, search engines, and the Cortana personal assistant, for Microsoft, Siemens, and Collarity). What do you think of the current technological advancements being made in the bus sector?

I think that the bus sector is one of the most exciting places to be from both a technology and business point of view. On the one hand, the business of mobility is changing cities and challenging traditional public transportation providers, and especially the bus sector. Yet it is important that cities preserve public transportation and help it grow. But what is really exciting is that the sector, which was historically not very advanced from the software point of view, is seeing enormous innovation. While some of the core systems of scheduling and planning are fairly old and require digital transformation, we see this is set to happen. Advances in cloud computing can allow public transportation to better optimize its operations, and even change some of the traditional approaches to a fixed-route service. This digital transformation will happen quickly because operators and agencies will want to protect themselves from the changes in the mobility space and also prepare with services that can be part of a future where people will offer MaaS. Additionally, we have access to a lot of data that can plot many origins and destinations and the technology can help us discover better routes and schedules, and in general better serve demand and better serve customers.

Can you tell our readers more about Optibus? Your aims and objectives…(Optibus is headquartered in Tel Aviv and has offices in San Francisco, London and Dusseldorf).  

Optibus is a high-tech mobility platform provider that improves mass transit performance in hundreds of cities around the world. Optibus provides a SaaS platform that plans and schedules the movements of vehicles and drivers, increasing operational efficiency, reducing costs and improving reliability. Additionally, the platform provides detailed insights on operational and financial efficiency.Optibus’ technology is based on a robust combination of artificial intelligence, advanced optimization algorithms and distributed cloud computing.Optibus powers some of the most complex and large-scale transit operations worldwide, improving quality of service and efficiency, reducing costs, streamlining operations and reducing congestion and emissions.The company is headquartered in Tel Aviv and has offices in San Francisco, London and Düsseldorf.

I think that the bus sector is one of the most exciting places to be from both a technology and business point of view...

UITP has focused on the many interesting and important developments taking place across public transport of late; digitalisation, AI, advancements in electro-mobility and more. Optibus is working with AI to optimise bus routes. Where are you with this important project now?

We are actually focused on all of the above. On the digitalisation side, our goal is to modernize planning and scheduling, which is still accomplished with pen and paper or spreadsheets, even in countries that are technologically advanced. Electro-mobility is also something we focus on, because the planning and scheduling of electric bus fleets requires taking into account the special characteristics of electric buses. Without doing this, achieving return on investment of those fleets will take longer. Last but not least, we also use artificial intelligence in our platform. For most people, the combination of artificial intelligence and public transportation evokes thoughts of autonomous vehicles, but AI can also bring great benefits to scheduling and planning. We’re already using AI to better schedule trips, automatically, to improve on-time performance and stay aware of the financial trade-offs involved. We also think AI can use data to better plan routes and timetables. All this can grow the savings and efficiencies involved in new transportation planning and scheduling platforms.

I am always amazed by the curiosity and urge to change and innovate when I speak to the people that lead the world’s public transportation operators and agencies...

As a member-led association, UITP believes that networking with our members is key to moving forward. What does it mean for you, and Optibus, to participate in UITP events such as the International Bus Conference?   

These events always fill the Optibus team with excitement about the industry. I am always amazed by the curiosity and urge to change and innovate when I speak to the people that lead the world’s public transportation operators and agencies. They all want to make a difference and they all want to better serve their passengers. Although some people may think it’s an old sector, I am surprised by the drive to make the business better through technology.

And finally, can you tell us in one sentence what you think is the next big step in urban mobility?

Integrating public transit into mobility as a service, and using the data to adjust routes on a frequent basis.




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