ITS (UK) Group tells Parliament MaaS is not a “magic bullet” | Smart Highways Magazine: Industry News

ITS (UK) Group tells Parliament MaaS is not a “magic bullet”

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ITS (UK)’s Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Interest Group has responded to the Transport Select Committee’s MaaS inquiry agreeing that there is significant global and UK interest in the concept, but that, unless done right, it could actually risk moving people from public transport to on-demand cars.

The group, led by representatives from Jacobs, Cubic, and AECOM, said that while there are not enough use-cases yet to analyse potential effectiveness, several UK and European pilot projects should start providing evidence in the near future.

The inquiry focussed on potential barriers to delivering MaaS and the response sought to manage expectations, warning, “A MaaS App on its own is not a magic bullet. It must offer access to high quality, reliable services in order to get people to use it. There are no existing examples of a high quality ticketing system used by a poor quality transport provider leading to increased ridership.”

When responding to questions about barriers to implementation, the group pointed to issues with local authority resources, real-time information, and private sector motivation. They also pointed to the need for effective Government advice and regulation if a nationwide solution is to be delivered, and that modelling has shown that using MaaS solutions actually cost more if a customer still has a private car. Concerns over social exclusion were also discussed.

However the group pointed to the undoubted opportunities of positioning the UK as a global leader in the delivery of MaaS which represents a very significant change in how transport users access services.

Group chair Andrew Pearce said, “What’s clear from our work is that MaaS can have positive or negative effects – the scale and direction of the benefits is down to participation:  it’s a team sport where specific contributions are needed from private sector, local and central government – if one party takes over it will fail or be distorted with unwanted effects for the network”

ITS (UK) Secretary General Jennie Martin said, “Once again, thanks to our wide variety of members and their complementary knowledge and skills, ITS (UK) has been able to respond to a Government request with an informed, focussed set of comments which will help ministers and officials make the right choices to deliver another exciting transport technology innovation.”

 
Comments

I do not envy the task of introducing MaaS to large metro areas. There are too many actors and the political environment is daunting. All of this is reflected in controversies around app development and program implementation.

In Ithaca, New York, we are working on MaaS for a small urban area surrounded by a rural region. MaaS is seen as a means to integrate consumer mobility education, marketing and selling of mobility services, and provide guaranteed ride services when trip failures happen. Another use of MaaS is to streamline how local governments authorize trip reservations and payment for their clients. Given our urban/rural geodemographics, I anticipate that half of our customers will use an app to navigate MaaS and half will call by phone for personalized service.

Another purpose of MaaS is to identify service gaps and stimulate sustainable mobility service models. For rural communities, this means modernizing car & van pooling, and volunteer transportation services. The focus is on increasing the supply of flexible, affordable mobility services for customers while providing recovery from trip failure.

No one will become a billionaire here. I expect MaaS will be operated by a private, non-profit company, with a goal of sustainability. In a small urban area, you can get all of the actors, who know each other, to meetings to work out details for a MaaS pilot. I suspect there are similar opportunities for MaaS in GB.

Dwight, I love your post because it describes the potential for small-scale MaaS to blossom at a local level and through community collaboration and not-for-profit approaches to serve the greater good. I can see this becoming a great model around the world with many such clusters developing. I would love to know more. I and my colleagues also submitted evidence to the UK Parliamentary Transport Select Committee as part of Travelspiririt.io. We are an emerging global force in MaaS focused on the type of collaborative open approach that you anticipate.