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Nov 08, 2018
Senior leaders from around the globe explore MaaS implementation best practice.

UITP Masterclass: Making MaaS Happen

The UITP Masterclass on Mobility as a Service (MaaS) saw a range of excellent speakers descend upon Brisbane on 2 November 2018 to give us an overview of MaaS activities in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

For those of you unable to attend, I have created this short summary.

 

Key Themes

The main themes of the masterclass were:

  1. MaaS is a fast-moving area where the biggest problem is a lack of standards for interfacing data. Vendors and some governments are not waiting for the formation of these standards and are independently integrating the various service providers into their MaaS platforms.
  2. There is a coalescing of definitions. In general, all participants defined MaaS the same way – an integrated transport system that uses an app to present a wide array of transport services from a variety of vendors in a neutral way that shows a range of modal and service options. This is all linked using a single, account-based payment system.
  3. There are a plethora of private companies and governments involved, and this is seen as the ideal way to influence travel.
  4. Most MaaS services are currently targeted at Millennials, as they are seen as the demographic most willing to take up this service.
  5. There is no clear single business model for MaaS vendors.

 

Learnings From Trials

Colin Lim UITP MaaS Masterclass Colin Lim, CEO of Singapore-based mobilityX, told us how they ran a MaaS test bed at one of the universities. Some of the key lessons learned were:

  • Hills kill bikes. Bike ride-sharers do not like putting in the effort to ride up hills (who knew?). E-scooters take care of this and have become very popular. In the curated MaaS environment, it was felt that 2 – 3 trips per day was the viable number to offer a mobility service. Through careful curation, they were able to move e-scooters from 1 – 10 trips per day.
  • On-demand services need scale otherwise they do not deliver the needed flexibility.
  • Developing partnerships with transport providers is critical to success. This includes the selection of partners and enabling partners to deliver technology. Colin felt that almost all transport providers do not want to share their profit and go it alone as soon as they can. This means that locking them in by establishing the right business rules up front is critical to the ongoing viability of the aggregator.
  • In a MaaS solution, the aggregator needs to create many one-to-one relationships with transport suppliers and be prepared to work through the data issues with each of these companies. Data issues included data integration, data ownership and the need for bigger datasets.

Colin told us about issues interfacing to nine providers in Singapore and how the exit of oBike from the market happened just after they completed a deep interface to this platform. Their investment then became valueless and he felt that ongoing development of these mobility provider interfaces was not a technology issue but a political issue.

Colin suggested that regulation should follow innovation, but without too large a gap – around two years is about right.

 

Devina Hassanaly UITP MaaS MasterclassMaaS trials in Denmark and Scotland were outlined by Devina Hassanaly of Systra. One of the key lessons she shared was the need to co-design the services with the customer. With the target demographic, we should not just assume that we know what they want.

Kaj Pyyhtia UITP MaaS Masterclass Kaj Pyyhtiä, Whim’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, suggested that if you make vehicles more available, this will free up money for use on other modes. He pointed out that in Finland they have opened up the MaaS market by requiring all mobility providers to have open apps with published interfaces.

 

The Transport Authorities’ Perspective

Martin McMullan UITP Masterclass MaaSOf great interest to the audience was Martin McMullan from the New Zealand Transport Authority’s (NZTA) run-down on what was happening there.

Interestingly, NZTA does not want to be the channel the passenger selects for MaaS. They do not want to build the app, preferring to position themselves as the integration platform.

Martin sees data integration as the biggest issue in MaaS and this is the area NZTA has focussed on. They have 29 service providers integrated to their platform so far and see users having access to several apps that offer the core MaaS options plus a range of value-add services.

He gave the example of Chariot in the USA, who offer laundry services as part of your MaaS booking. Customers can drop off their clothes on the way to work and they will be waiting for them on the return trip.

Neil Scales UITP Masterclass MaaS Neil Scales, Director General of Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR), shared a high-level government view. He sees the need for MaaS to help him deliver “a single integrated transport system accessible to everyone” and has formed a specialist MaaS team that reports directly to him. For Queensland, he believes the megatrends are:

  • The population is on the move, with 85% within 30km of the coast.
  • Empowered customers are demanding more.
  • There is still a digital divide based on geography and age.
  • Desire for a lighter footprint with Electric Vehicles and MaaS.

DTMR is generally taking a conservative approach and wants to see the outcomes of efforts overseas. Their priorities are:

They believe they are reducing the risk to Queenslanders by designing the needed framework and fostering core design.

 

 

The Expert View

Leslie Carter UITP MaaS Masterclass Les Carter, Managing Director of MRCagney, outlined the megatrends influencing MaaS, namely:

  • A focus on smart services,
  • Decreasing car ownership,
  • A connected fleet, and
  • New service delivery methods.

He said the government’s role is to be an enabler of this technology and to help aggregate data by providing data access and a wider geographical coverage, so that MaaS would cover more than just a suburb or two and work across the state, or potentially even across the country.

To do this, Les suggested that governments need to change their legislation to be less prescriptive. He proposed a method by which governments could do this without holding up the pace of change: essentially, by making exceptions to current laws to allow for trials whilst the underlying law is changed.

Tim Mercer-Cook UITP Maas Masterclass Tim Mercer-Cook from Cubic highlighted the need for effective account-based systems to support MaaS. He advocated a standards-based approach using web service APIs and discussed the need for a common encryption and authentication standards.

He stated that the shift to mobile technology would result in new services and easier market entry for start-ups. At the same time, the shift to cloud-based platforms would result in high availability and scalable computing power for all vendors and allow for the integration of new technologies.

 

Conclusion

UITP again showed their strengths by assembling a high quality group of MaaS professionals to guide attendees and discuss many of the learnings and issues. Attendees left with a strong understanding of the current state of play for MaaS in the region.

Panel sessions gave insightful views on the role of government in MaaS, reinforcing the need for standards and the need to regulate – but not stifle – innovation.  

I left the masterclass buoyed by the knowledge that all stakeholders recognise that MaaS will be a valuable part of the future transport mix. This is a team effort, with a part for entrepreneurs to play in innovating and leading the charge.

There is also a role for government to fulfil in building standards and helping to aggregate data. Done well, with insight and in a cooperative manner, governments can help the industry innovate and deliver an outstanding MaaS solution. Passengers will be the ultimate winner.

Written by David Panter

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