New €4M European initiative set to optimise the passenger experience in public transport

Project news

The passenger experience in public transport is set to be enhanced as a new groundbreaking EU-funded project embarks on its 3.5-year journey to develop a range of novel user-centric services and vehicle technologies.

The €4M OptiPEx project led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland was launched on 1st May 2024. The consortium composed of researchers and industry representatives from 7 European countries gathered in Tampere, Finland, for the official kick-off meeting of the project on 15-16 May 2024.

The OptiPEx project will give rise to a sustainable mobility system with autonomous public transport services providing passengers with high-quality services.

“Our co-creation process, coupled with scenario-building techniques, will give us valuable insights into passenger needs and preferences and policy implications and trade-offs associated with different decisions. These insights in combination with advanced perception technologies and artificial intelligence solutions will serve as the main drivers of the OptiPEx developments.” says Project Coordinator Johanna Kallio, Senior Scientist at VTT.

This project is necessitated by two key trends in the mobility sector. First, increased environmental awareness is driving a shift from private cars to public transport services. Private motor vehicles currently contribute to over 45% of all global transmission emissions. The project highlights that the wider adoption of public transport services requires a deep understanding of passenger expectations and perceived experiences.

Second, the evolution towards autonomous services with minimal human control and operator presence is ongoing, and the current trajectory dictates that autonomous public transport systems must be human-aware, having a real-time view on the passengers, their needs, safety, and comfort.

In addressing these trends, the OptiPEx project aims to create ethical, passenger-aware, interactive and adaptive public transport services. These services will be built on advanced vehicle technologies that assess the real-time passenger experience and adjusts the conditions to improve the sense of comfort, safety, and ease of travelling of the passengers. An increase in the service quality and the improved passenger satisfaction will lead to an acceleration of the adoption of automated public transportation technologies and improve the sustainability of the mobility services.

OptiPEx will achieve its vision of enhancing the experience of passengers by co-creating ethical, passenger-aware public transport service solutions together with specific user groups including wheelchair users, passengers with large objects, fragile passengers with limited mobility, tourists and students. The developed solutions will be demonstrated and validated with the user groups and other stakeholders in three living labs with two trams and one shuttle in Finland, Austria and Germany respectively. Passenger needs will also be studied in Spain.

As a visionary Horizon Europe project, OptiPEx will join forces with other related initiatives in the domain of user-centric vehicle technologies and services through the Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) Partnership to harmonise efforts and to ensure long-term impact.

The aim is ultimately to guarantee seamless interaction between the vehicles and their passengers and thus improve the competitive edge of the European public transport industry through the positive environmental, societal and economic impacts that the OptiPEx solutions generate.

To learn more about this project and keep track of its progress, follow us on:
X: @OptiPEx_Project
LinkedIn: OptiPEx

Technical enquiries:

Johanna Kallio, Senior Scientist, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
[email protected]

Funded by the EU
Johanna Kallio
Johanna Kallio
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