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MaaSLab research assesses Londoners’ attitude to MaaS

First publishedin ITS International
JanuaryFebruary2018
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As delegates head for our second MaaS Market Conference, Colin Sowman examines a new report looking at the potential impact of Mobility as a Service on London’s travellers and transport providers. 

In the run-up to ITS International’s MaaS Market (London) conference, a new independent report examining the travelling public’s appetite for Mobility as a Service (MaaS) has been published. Until now, there has been no real evidence base to evaluate the extent to which MaaS could change travel behaviour in cities. But this situation has been changed by a new report which has been prepared for Transport for London (TfL) by the MaaSLab at University College London. Entitled Londoners’ attitudes towards car-ownership and Mobility-as-a-Service: Impact assessment and opportunities that lie ahead, the report has been compiled by lead author Dr Maria Kamargianni, along with M Matyas, W Li and J Muscat.

Illuminating insight

As the popularity (or otherwise) of many new mobility services such as MaaS is currently untested there is a dearth of data to use as a basis for forecasting the impact on traffic, public transport and air quality. To address this shortcoming, MaaSLab interviewed 1,570 Londoners about their attitudes towards owning and using a car in London and towards MaaS. The sample reflected London’s population based on gender,

age, residential zone and driving licence possession and the report also assesses the hypothetical impact and opportunities that would be created by potential MaaS-related modal shifts. In doing so it provides an illuminating insight into the impact of introducing MaaS to London (and by extension, many other cities). 

TfL has already introduced a congestion charge zone and significantly increased public transport capacity, quality and coverage as well as achieving ticketing integration.

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It freely releases key real-time data (as APIs), enabling new products and services to be developed – often utilising smartphone apps.London is already host to several new mobility solutions such as vehicle-sharing (car clubs and peer-to-peer car rental), ride-hailing and ride-sharing schemes.

While these moves have increased the number of Londoners opting for alternative transport services instead of private cars, London’s traffic congestion and air quality is getting worse. The report states that vehicle technology alone cannot solve the problems and therefore more vehicles need to be taken out of the network. This, it says, can be achieved by separating car use and car ownership and integrating public and private mobility services to offer convenient alternatives to private car usage.

MaaS advocates

By using MaaS, a traveller can use a single MaaS platform (probably a smartphone app), to plan trips and purchase mobility services from various mobility operators with a single payment. Many advocates would like to see MaaS users able to cover their travel needs in any city or country where a MaaS scheme is available.

In surveying Londoners, car owners told researchers that owning a car in London does not make their life easier or more convenient - many stated the opposite, citing numerous pain points that cost money and time. Furthermore, almost three quarters of car owners said driving in London was ‘a nightmare’, with half citing congestion and 40% finding a parking space time-consuming. Two thirds of those who do not own a car find no need for one in London while a quarter of car owners wanted access to a vehicle without owning it. Half of car owners are ‘attached to their car’ although at £2,800 ($3,900) per year (excluding purchase and maintenance) to run a car in London, more than half deemed it a big expenditure for their household.

Conversely, 57% of those who do not own a car expect to buy one in the future.

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Traveller discounts

According to the report, being able to access all travel modes via a single interface, payment and ticketing method could further support the shift away from private vehicle dependence in London. Many respondents were willing to use MaaS, believing it can offer them travel flexibility, remove many travel-related pain points and improve the quality of travelling.

Providing discounts for travellers using MaaS would incentivise 43% of respondents to subscribe (rising to 55% of under 30-year olds) and half were willing to try any new transport options included in their MaaS plan. As the report points out, this could introduce more people to public and shared transport modes which would help balance the modal split. However, around half of respondents were concerned about running out of their subscribed amount and an equal proportion would ‘feel trapped’ by subscribing to MaaS.

One in three car owners said MaaS would lessen their dependence on their cars and a quarter would sell their cars for unlimited access to car-sharing for two years. Some 40% of those who do not own a car stated they would not purchase a car if MaaS were available.

Given the choice of various MaaS configurations, the most popular version (26%) includes public transport, car-sharing and taxi. Public transport was included in the top three most popular MaaS plans and users preferred ride-hailing to traditional taxis.

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Revenue effect

The initiation of well-designed and keenly-priced MaaS products is expected to positively affect the use of public transport modes and, with it, transport operators’ revenue. It also has the potential to remove a significant number of vehicles from the network and an increase in the usage of bike-sharing is expected, as it is a convenient mode for short distance trips.

The research found that more than one in three regular car users would substitute car usage for public transport available via MaaS while 13% predicted no change. A third said MaaS would increase the amount they walk or cycle while 11% would increase their travel by taxi.

The impact of introducing MaaS for those who already predominantly use public transport would be to increase their use of public transport (28%) while 23% said MaaS would have no impact and 12% would substitute part of their public transport usage for car-sharing. A small proportion (2%) would substitute part of their public transport usage with taxis and 14% would increase their use of bike-sharing.

Integration of offerings

Addressing the challenges to implementing MaaS, the report says: “Given the stated preference of including public transport in MaaS, it is important for authorities and operators to explore how public and private offerings could be integrated.”

The specific configuration of MaaS would be crucial in determining its impact on many elements of city transport through reducing reliance on private vehicles, increasing use of public transport while also incentivising intermodality and active transport modes. Discounts (that arise from bundling services) could motivate individuals, especially young people, to join MaaS and use public transport and active modes which would have a positive impact on congestion, parking, air quality, ticket sales and operators’ revenue.

However, the report says further research is needed and testing MaaS through pilot case studies would help to provide the evidence needed to demonstrate the wider impacts.

Dr Kamargianni will be participating in one of the panel sessions at MaaS Market London (20 & 21 February, Inmarsat Conference Centre London) and a full copy of the report can be downloaded from the MaaSLab website.

MaaS in America

In terms of introducing MaaS, cities in the US start from a very different situation to those in Europe and elsewhere in terms of existing transport usage and infrastructure. These issues will be addressed at ITS International’s MaaS Market Conferences in Atlanta, Georgia (9-10 May 2018, Loudermilk Center) which will provide a focused, informative and practical way to find out more about Mobility as a Service.

Environmental impact

In conjunction with London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scheme which comes into force in April 2019, MaaSLab can ensure ‘polluters’ pay, says the MaasLab report. The ULEZ will charge users of all non-compliant vehicles (cars, vans, trucks, buses, coaches and motorcycles) while MaaS can offer travellers a convenient alternative to their private vehicles – allowing them to avoid the charge. “In comparison, those who will still drive [non-compliant vehicles] while MaaS is available will have no excuse to avoid the charge,” the report concludes.

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