MaaS: What Commuters, Providers and Local Authorities Really Want

October 15, 2019 Jean-Marie Vial

For Mobility-as-a-Service to Prosper, It Must Meet Mutual Needs

Syndicat Mixte Intermodal Régional de Transports (SMIRT) represents 14 separate local transportation authorities and covers a population in excess of three million people across northern France. When SMIRT wanted to simplify the passenger experience and increase the attractiveness of public transport, it asked Conduent to help. Using the Conduent Mobility Companion Platform, we helped create the passpass.fr which offers door-to-door trip planning that not only combines public bus and train transportation but includes bike hire and carpooling as well. The service plans routes based on an array of factors including speed of overall journey, number of connections, maximum walking time, price and carbon footprint.

This is MaaS in action. This is Mobility-as-a-Service as defined by UITP, the International Association of Public Transport, as: “the integration of, and access to, different transport services …  in one single digital mobility offer, with active mobility and an efficient public transport system as its basis.” The SMIRT use case also helps us frame the question inferred in the title of this blog post: what do stakeholders want? What are commuters, transport providers and local authorities looking for from MaaS? Let’s take each in turn.

The commuter

Ross Douglas, founder and CEO of Autonomy, argues that MaaS solutions must be built around travellers’ key expectations if commuter behaviour is to change. These expectations, writes Douglas, include trustworthiness (accurate, real-time travel information, reliable transportation); simplicity (convenient, joined-up and easy-to-use modes of transport); impartiality (access to all); and flexibility (adaptable to changing needs). “Cities are still polluted and congested and 2018 was a record year for CO2 emissions,” notes Douglas. “The reason for this is that cars are often still the best door-to-door solutions in cities.”

And he is right, of course. To his list of expectations, I would add fulfilment. Commuters not only want to make a difference — to  reduce pollution, congestion and their own carbon emissions – they want proof that they are having an impact. MaaS that can’t demonstrate the effect of change is missing an opportunity.

I would also underline simplicity. If MaaS is seen to be overwhelmingly complex, it will dissuade all but the most determined. That’s why the role of the integrator in developing an open platform linking backend providers to frontend customers is crucial.

The transport provider

What do providers, including Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), want? First and foremost, they are likely to want to know they have a role to play in this shifting world of mobility. Their relationship with the traveller — traditionally one-to-one and direct — is changing. MaaS is an ecosystem. That requires cooperation with local authorities but also with competitors, too. Providers want to know that their intellectual property will be protected, especially when data-sharing is encouraged for the greater good. They want to ring fence their unique market position.

Another wish is consistent: clear and fair regulations from one city to the next. And finally, when it comes to embracing an electric vehicle future, they want to know that local authorities are fully committed to building — or facilitating the build — of public charging points.

The local authority

To some extent, the local authority is a proxy for the citizen. Therefore, what the commuter/traveller wants, the local authority wants too. They want to improve traffic flows in an effort to reduce congestion, pollution and emissions, and to increase liveability and business productivity. They want to take every citizen with them, including the digital dispossessed as well as the digitally native. They want access to all available data, so they introduce improvements — and nudge behaviour change — in near real-time.

Above all, perhaps, local authorities want to know that they can count on a MaaS integrator able to connect the end user at the frontend, via apps and mobility services, to backend transportation services and infrastructure. As the UITP policy paper, Ready for Mass? notes: “The role of the integrator is to make MaaS fly. Only by having happy customers and happy business partners will a MaaS provider be able to scale and create maximum benefits for sustainable mobility.”

We began this post in northern France. To end, let’s head to the Finnish capital and its ambition to be private car-free by 2025. To meet that goal, Helsinki is developing a mobility on demand app that functions as both journey planner and universal payment platform. To ensure a successful outcome, it must fulfil the mutual needs of commuter, provider and local authority. Watch this space.

About the Author

Jean-Marie Vial is Conduent's Automotive Senior Expert and will be attending Autonomy & The Urban Mobility Summit on 16-17 October in Paris. To connect with Jean-Marie and his colleagues at the event, email: jean-marie.vial@conduent.com

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