The False Simplicity of Public Transportation

1 minute read


Public transportation may seem like a simple thing - after all, we’ve been using it since we were young. But this perception leads to unfortunate consequences, such as inefficiency and improper methodologies, due to a lack of proper education. Moreover, the negative effects of such practices are not immediately noticeable, and can take years to manifest.

I’ve been studying public transportation science for 5 years and working in the fare collection industry for nearly 20 years. But the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know, as Socrates once said.

Automated fare collection requires expertise from a wide range of industries and fields, from legislation and payment systems to smartcards and contactless technologies, IT system design, loyalty programs, customer development, and project management.

Despite this complexity, people from other industries, such as banking, retail, and telecom, often think of public transportation as an archaic and poorly defined industry, and believe they can teach it how to innovate and improve. However, this is far from the truth, as public transportation is one of the most socially significant and risk-laden industries.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t listen to specialists from other industries. Rather, I am against dogmatic approaches that tailor public transport to the needs of other industries, instead of incorporating best practices from other fields into public transport.

To illustrate, imagine letting an experienced butcher perform a simple surgery on a human body. This would never happen, as they lack the proper education and experience. Similarly, just because someone knows how to plug in a laptop or iron, or has ridden public transportation since childhood, does not make them an expert in public transportation.

This phenomenon deserves further study by scientists, as it reveals how our assumptions about familiarity can hinder progress in industries we do not fully understand.

The False Simplicity of Public Transportation