The Direction of Connected Travel
By David Salton
DateNovember 27, 2017
As consumers of transport services, we are becoming more demanding and want to experience seamless travel. Our industry is having to respond to these rising customer expectations through solutions such as ‘Mobility as a Service’, or MaaS.
The MaaS Alliance defines this as:
“The integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. To meet a customer’s request, a MaaS operator facilitates a diverse menu of transport options, be they public transport, ride-, car- or bike-sharing, taxi or car rental/lease, or a combination thereof. For the user, MaaS can offer added value through use of a single application to provide access to mobility, with a single payment channel instead of multiple ticketing and payment operations. For its users, MaaS should be the best value proposition, by helping them meet their mobility needs and solve the inconvenient parts of individual journeys as well as the entire system of mobility services”.
In some circles, MaaS has been referred to as the ‘Netflix of Mobility’. However, it has the capability to be even more disruptive to the transport sector than Netflix has been to the way we watch TV and films. MaaS has the capability to not only make travel more convenient for people, through easy access to travel options and integrated ticketing, but also to influence their travel behaviour. MaaS provides the mechanism and opportunities by which people can be incentivised to travel at a particular time or by a specific mode and to be rewarded, for example, through vouchers for their favourite restaurant. In essence MaaS has the ability to change the way people travel and spend their time and money. Sources predict this market has the potential to grow significantly in the short to medium term with a future market value measured in the billions of dollars being bandied around. MaaS has the potential to be disruptive on a massive scale!
There are clear linkages between the concept of MaaS, Connected Vehicles and ultimately, Autonomous Vehicles (AVs). Key to this is the sharing of big data, from users’ travel behaviour and choices to the movement of vehicles on the network. Taking all three concepts together it is recognised that the cities of the future may be very different to what we have at present. Making travel more efficient, and potentially cheaper, may encourage people to travel more, whilst utilising autonomous vehicles may reduce the need for parking facilities but greatly increase the number of people choosing to travel. There are still a number of policy hurdles (both social and legal) to overcome before AVs can be considered a reality in our cities, however those same hurdles do not exist to the same extent with MaaS. You just have to look at the popularity of mobile phones, and particularly smartphones, in recent years. The public are comfortable with the concept of having a (phone) network provider who offers defined numbers of texts, minutes and data per month. MaaS can be thought of in a similar manner with users being offered different packages consisting of so much travel time permitted on certain travel modes per month, at specific times etc. As the public already understand and accept this model there is little to stop MaaS progressing rapidly in the next few years and helping to pave the way for the continued growth in Connected Vehicles and in due course AVs.
IBI Group was a founding member of the MaaS Scotland network, and we are currently working on a project testing the application of MaaS to the Cairngorms National Park region in Scotland. This is a large rural area, poorly served by traditional transport services and an ideal environment to test out the practicalities of a MaaS solution. In North America, we’ve been advising some of our transit clients on the potential impact of MaaS. From the AV side, we had two of our submissions to the New York Driverless Challenge – sAVe and 17CP – through to the final 10, the former to the last four. sAVe has received some support to allow a concept to be developed further. 17CP demonstrates the sweet spot for IBI – the potential for these new solutions to transform cities, bringing together the expertise from the Intel sector (understanding AV, technology, transport systems) with that of other sectors, notably infrastructure, with our transport planning, urban planning and landscape teams.