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.
The main themes of the masterclass were:
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.
MaaS 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 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.
Of 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, 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:
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.
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 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.
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