Why is Mobility as a Service (MaaS) the Future of Transport in the Public Sector?
Covid-19 has impacted on a range of sectors, with transport being one that has been subject to significant and potentially permanent change.
Whilst pre-pandemic mobility trends indicated a sustained need for investment in a range of public transport infrastructure, the pandemic resulted in a degree of uncertainty in the sector due to plummeting demand, increased operating expenditure and loss of revenues (requiring state support in certain circumstances).
Whilst these changes appear to be short-lived and as restrictions have eased, use of public transport has increased – it has resulted in the rise of both the adoption of new technologies and methodologies in the sector.
Successful mobility requires the collaboration of both the public and private sectors, which is fraught with challenges, but the pandemic has caused combined, transport and local authorities to reflect on their offerings and use this period to inform change for the benefit of commuters. One outcome of this change process is the increased adoption of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and we are working on a number of these projects across England.
What is MaaS?
MaaS is primarily a technology solution which seeks to integrate transport modalities (buses, bikes, cars, taxis, trains, trams, etc.) into a single mobility service which is accessible to end users on demand via an application/platform. Successful applications/platforms will allow users to make a single efficient and cost-effective payment (or use a subscription service) to access any or all services and to receive real-time updates without the need to interact with multiple operators/service providers.
This is an important step for the future landscape of public transport, which is often seen as antiquated in terms of end user interface. Many benefits are associated with this model including the reduction of CO2 emissions and traffic congestion, in addition to providing personalisation, convenience and cost savings. Furthermore, it is a proven and sustainable business model that is flexible and scalable depending on the city/town in which it is implemented. MaaS can be configured in any manner to suit a specific geography; such as:
- a full service offering, covering all types of mobility services;
- an incremental approach, incorporating one particular service at a time;
- or consolidating a single offering with multiple operators / service providers.
The region in question will have its own specific needs and requirements, for example in the South West there is less of a train network, meaning focus can on bus routes makes sense whilst in the West Midlands, as a central hub to much of the UK, focus could be on a range of modalities including buses, trains and existing micro-mobility options. MaaS is adaptable and will likely offer benefits to almost all localities.
Is MaaS being adopted?
We are currently seeing a rise in queries relating to MaaS and are working on various MaaS projects across the UK which are leading the way in which authorities and individuals view public transport. From our experience, careful consideration needs to be given to the strategy and desired outcomes, resulting in extensive cross-party consultation and collaboration prior to market launch.
In light of the latest UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the agreements reached, authorities will be under increased pressure to consider the environmental impact of their transport services and MaaS is a viable solution which uses existing infrastructure in the most sustainable manner, thereby reducing carbon footprints of relevant transport systems. As technology also develops in the space of electric and autonomous vehicles, cities will need to ensure that they are prepared for the change to personal transport options and ensure that their transport systems are set up to deal with changing societal demands.
On the face of it, MaaS appears to have the ultimate aim of making owning a car unnecessary but the reality is that this model seeks to offer a broader solution which will fit into the wider smart city agenda. Collaboration is at the heart of its design and requires input from all facets of the transport industry, but the result is something that will potentially revolutionise how we interact with, and use, public transport. Navigating this landscape, whilst difficult, will likely be worthwhile for many parties.
Should you have any queries relating to MaaS or would like to understand how we may be able to assist in adoption of this solution, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.