Committee of Transport and Tourism
Why can't we plan or book a journey through Europe using the most sustainable way to travel in one single go - and online? writes Lib Dem transport spokesman Phil Bennion MEP.
This question stimulated the smart mobility challenge recently organised by the European Commission; a challenge to industry and stakeholders to make multimodal travel a reality by developing or submitting ideas for Europe-wide door-to-door journey planners. SNCF won this contest with its myTripSet initiative, an excellent concept but still a work in progress: my search on it for a Birmingham - Strasbourg journey left me with a pointless drive to Heathrow Airport. Deutsche Bahn, whose online presence is acknowledged as a benchmark, is also now looking to develop a travel planner in partnership with Google via Google Maps. In December, the European Commission launched a public consultation on ways to remove barriers to European travel planning - such as lack of access to timetables and service information, incompatible data formats and lack of collaboration. A truly multimodal door-to-door travel-planner would make transport greener, more sustainable and efficient, but the key requirement is reliable information to convince travellers to use different modes rather than individual vehicles.
The technology is now there, some obstacles remain, but Europe’s rail industry needs to grasp this nettle and become a leader in intelligent multi-mode online travel planning.