Transport systems and networks worldwide have hitherto been unable to deliver seamless integration across modes and local boundaries, with transport providers often struggling to address congestion and its impacts.
It has been suggested that developments in future technology coupled with a move to leased or shared access to private transport has the potential to change the way we perceive transportation resources and allow us to make better use of uncongested routes, quieter travel times and shared transportation.
One view is that we as individuals should be given the opportunity to pay for an end-to-end adaptable service that provides all of the perceived benefits and convenience of owning our own transport resources. This idea is captured by the phrase Mobility as a Service (MaaS).
MaaS describes a shift away from personally-owned modes of transportation towards mobility solutions that are consumed as a service. An orchestrated blend of transportation services from a range of public and private providers creates and delivers each journey through a unified mobility service provision which users can pay for with a single account. The objective is to bring together private and public transport solutions to better match user demands to the capacity of the whole transport system.
It is envisaged that users can choose how they pay for their travel requirements. This could include; pay-per-journey, a monthly fee for a specified distance, or a combination of both, but it would also have to cater for exemptions and discounts. Refinement of the MaaS operating model could also allow dynamic pricing or an allocation of capacity that could be auctioned to users that are willing to pay more. Social equity would be an important consideration here of course.
A single account approach already operates in the field of public transport. London’s Oyster and Hong Kong’s Octopus cards are good examples that cover several modes of transport and low value purchases. Extending such access towards including all modes of mobility would be logical stepping-stone to a MaaS future.
MaaS has the potential to impact on our economic efficiency by advising on the shortest journey times and avoiding adding more traffic to already congested routes. It can also provide the user with less wasted travel time and more time for productivity. One of the aims of MaaS is to encourage better use of public transport and increase confidence in public transport journey times. This increase in shared transport could have a positive impact on vehicle emissions and their impact on public health. MaaS could also be used to increase walking and cycling as part of a journey.
Interest in MaaS is growing worldwide. The Finnish Government is leading the way and has just finished a Helsinki MaaS pilot. Nearer to home, West Midlands Authorities announced in January 2017 that it would pilot a local MaaS scheme. MaaS Scotland has established a grouping of public and private sector organisations to develop MaaS solutions across Scotland.
The path to transport service integration requires innovation in many technology-related areas thereby creating opportunities for thought-leadership. The IET Transport Sector is currently developing its role as a thought leader in MaaS. If you would like to find out more please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.