“Not only are we saving people time and helping move people around more efficiently with mobile ticketing, we're also contributing to a broader shift towards smarter cities that drastically improve the lives of their inhabitants.”
With 50% of tickets to be purchased via mobile ticketing apps by 2019 it seems that public transport is on its way to catching up with today’s technologies. This usable technology is expected to benefit rail, metro and bus operators but also benefit the customer, because let’s face it, who doesn’t carry a phone around with them these days? One innovator leading the way for mobile ticketing is software company Masabi. With the visions of simplifying ticketing, removing the hassle of cash and bringing the future smart cities forward, Masabi is headed by entrepreneur Brian Zanghi. A relative new comer to the transport industry, Zanghi talks with SmartRail World reporter, Sarah Wright about his experiences thus far and where he sees the industry heading in the next decade…
Sarah Wright (SW): How did you get into the transport industry?
Brian Zanghi (@bkzanghi) (BZ): Becoming CEO of Masabi was actually my start in the industry. I've been interested in transportation for a long time, and more specifically public transit, but came into this role as a tech guy who appreciates innovation and disruption. At Masabi, I've had the great fortune to work with people who are equally committed to those ideas but also have deep backgrounds in the transit industry, and especially rail. So while I've learned a great deal, I'm still a transit newcomer by comparison.
SW: What do like most about your job?
BZ: I love the challenge of growing this company, helping drive adoption of mobile ticketing at a time when interest in smart transit is increasing. The overarching goal at Masabi is to bring transit innovations to cities, which improves people's lives. Not only are we saving people time and helping move people around more efficiently with mobile ticketing, we're also contributing to a broader shift towards smarter cities that drastically improve the lives of their inhabitants. The U.N. has predicted that two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2050; we want stakeholders to realize that they must start preparing now for that population growth by opening up their data and encouraging development of best-of-breed solutions to urban needs.
SW: What’s the biggest challenge in your role?
BZ: Disruption, by its very nature, invites pushback. This is especially true in the public sector, where policies and practices tend to become entrenched even when you have forward-thinking people trying to encourage new directions. It's our job not merely to convince stakeholders that mobile ticketing is a smarter way to spend the public's money, but to show them how it's about far more than replacing ticket machines. It's part of a bigger-picture solution – smart transit – that will provide a highly visible benefit for citizens through shorter commutes and other easily recognized improvements to quality of life. Show the taxpayers that kind of result and they'll be amenable to investing in other smart city solutions in the future.
SW: With the bigger picture still in mind, what will be some of the biggest differences between transport now and in 10 years’ time?
BZ: It will be about the entire journey, not just the commute. When we talk about smart transit, it's important to understand it's an ecosystem that encompasses so much more than the transit experience from station to station. It will include bike share and rideshare, interstate travel by rail and air, walking and biking trails, even movie tickets and restaurant reservations and other entertainments. And you'll be able to coordinate it all seamlessly through your smartphone, which will be your personal ticket machine and travel planner. You'll move effortlessly from one mode of transit to another, from one destination to another, without ever having to stand in line or show up in advance – or even coordinate anything other than your departure from point A and arrival at point B.
SW: What’s your favourite rail journey?
BZ: It's boarding Amtrak's Acela at South Station in Boston and making the trip to Penn Station in the heart of New York City. It's just a couple of hours – about the same amount of time it would take to fly, but a much more pleasant journey. You don't have the hassles associated with going to the airport; you can just board, find your seat and relax. I can work if I need to, or just enjoy the ride between two of my favorite cities in the United States.
SW: Brian, it is great to hear from someone with a fresh perspective on rail, so thank you for your time today!
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