Peter Torrellas, can we start with an introduction to you, your career history, and how that led you to Cubic Transportation Systems?
I’ve worked in the transportation sector for 20 years on projects such as bringing passenger information to New Yorkers underground for the first time. I spent a long time at Siemens and then I was at Parsons where I led the global business unit dedicated to rail technology and infrastructure. My passion has always been about transforming infrastructure and leveraging innovation to improve people’s lives. That made joining Cubic a natural next step as part of my ongoing mission – knowing that as a Cubes I have the ability to positively impact the almost 38 million people a day who use our system around the world and be part of a world-class team.
Could you provide a little insight into your newly appointed role as President of Cubic Transportation Systems? What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
I’m responsible for leading Cubic Transportation Systems’ strategic vision, growing its customer base, enhancing partnerships with existing customers and building on the long history of technology innovation around the world. We are at an exhilarating place for both the industry and our organization.
Meeting customers around the world and hearing their stories is one of the most rewarding parts of the job and helps me understand the challenges that transit agencies are facing, no matter where they are located. The aspect I enjoy the most is working with my fellow Cubes around the world and being part of the energy and passion that gets poured into the mission we are on to upgrade the world’s ability to move people so they can live, work and play in cities and communities around the world.
Longer term, we want to continue to be the model for the fare collection industry, looking at how we integrate AI into new solutions, for example.
How do you plan to take Cubic forward and continue its reign as one of the top fare ticketing system providers in the world?
Our plan is to stay focused on our customers and lead with industry-defining innovation. We have a well-defined strategy to take our business forward for our long-term growth and success of our customers and company. Fare collection is how we all interact with multimodal mobility solutions. This means we can continue innovating based on the insights we have gathered to imagine, create and operate the best fare collection systems in the world, and we will continue to use data, which in today’s work is an invaluable asset. At the same time, we have ambitious growth plans, including the recent appointment of a Chief Growth Officer and also bringing onboard a Chief Digital Officer, both of whom will help us continue our digital transformation, enabling us to leverage new technologies in AI, Cyber Security and Cloud.
Can you share some of the organization’s recent key milestones?
We won a fantastic contract last year: a countrywide adoption of our ticketing platform in New Zealand. That means multiple regional operators and jurisdictions all integrating one uniform, frictionless passenger experience. Regardless of where you are in the country, you enjoy the same seamless mobility interface. Another recent milestone relates to our 30-year partnership with the New York MetroCard system, which recently reached one billion taps on our OMNY payment platform.
Alongside these successes, can you share any losses?
I think everyone in the transportation sector and beyond was heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to catastrophic loss of life while stopping transit in its tracks for months on end. While passenger numbers have bounced back, journey patterns have shifted significantly, which means we have to continue to innovate. For example, one customer told me that although rider numbers have rebounded, there are barely any passengers on Fridays and the weekends are now at highs in terms of ridership. That means rethinking and re-incentivizing transit and ticketing.
What are today’s priorities for transport and mobility solutions?
Making purchasing a ticket as unbelievably simple as buying a pack of chewing gum is step number one. We don’t want passengers to worry about how complex the system is, as anyone who has tried to buy a train ticket in some parts of the UK could tell you. Instead, we want them focused on intuitive, seamless engagement with transparent and fair pricing across all modes of transportation. Another key priority is making sure we have transportation infrastructure that is financially inclusive and socially equitable.
What are the biggest challenges facing the sector and how do you advise these can be addressed?
For many jurisdictions, there is a governance challenge when it comes to funding, capital allocations and harmonizing different operators with different rules to create a uniform regional and national mobility strategy. It’s not necessarily a technical problem, rather more of a policy and governance evolution as the world becomes more connected. The other big challenge is integrating technology and innovation into the transit experience. That means making mobile technology the primary user interface to mobility scheduling, routing and fare settlement across all modes of transit.
What should be top of the agenda for the future of transport?
For Cubic, the important thing is to enable flexible payment options so commuters can make transactions in the way they want in an equitable way. In a broader sense, I think climate action is clearly top of mind for industry professionals. We need to rethink all forms of transport and make public transport a more attractive and affordable option than driving a car so we can drive down emissions. We also need to continue to electrify as much of the public transit fleet as possible for lower carbon, less pollution and improved public health.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The industry is at an inflection point and, as market leader, we have an opportunity to co-create the future with our customers and their passengers, which makes us incredibly excited. Our technology is designed to enable financial inclusion and social equity, meaning everyone has access to the transportation they need and can participate in the economy.