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People with an increased risk of digital exclusion, such as the elderly or the illiterate, experience advantages, but also disadvantages of digitization in public transport. Like other groups of people, they experience the convenience of digital travel information and payment options. At the same time, they run into problems, partly because some have limited digital skills or do not have a suitable smartphone or PC.

This is evident from the research 'An inclusive public transport system in the digital age: on the right track?' of the Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy (KiM), which in its report (and brochure) also makes a number of suggestions for lowering digital barriers in public transport.

No or limited digital skills

Digitization in public transport offers clear benefits for a majority of people. For them, traveling by public transport is easier due to the availability of digital travel information on a smartphone and the option to buy tickets online. 

About 3 million Dutch people, 1 in 6, have no or limited digital skills. These are low-literate people, but also some elderly people, people with a lower level of education, people from minority groups and people with learning and communication problems. They belong to the groups at increased risk of digital exclusion, as it is more difficult for some of them to participate in the digital society. This includes the use of public transport.

People from these groups also sometimes feel less comfortable with digital resources. This can make them more dependent on others, resulting in less self-reliance. Inadequate design of public transport products and services also prevents them from always benefiting from innovations. Some problems that manifest themselves as a result of digitization in public transport are deeply rooted and therefore difficult to solve for parties in the sector, such as poverty.

Read also  Report: KiM lifts the veil on hidden mobility costs

Help from others

In order to be able to continue to use public transport, people with an increased risk of digital exclusion often devise ways to deal with digitization. A common way to overcome digital barriers is to enlist the help of others. For example, a family member who helps with buying a ticket online or fellow travelers who help operate the ticket machine at the station. 

Solution Directions

KiM makes various suggestions to keep public transport accessible for people with an increased risk of digital exclusion. For example, carriers can take these people into account when providing information. This also applies to developers when designing a ticket machine or travel app. Maintaining analogue alternatives, such as a ticket window or shops where tickets are sold, can also help prevent digital exclusion. Training can lower barriers for potential users, but can also make employees of the transport companies aware of the challenges that some people with few digital skills face, according to KiM.

Also read: Free public transport travel