First publishedin ITS International
Panel sessions explore a range of views on key topics
Second MaaS Market conference highlights pilots and fledgling services from around the world.
That a revolution in the provision of transport services is underway is no longer in doubt. The only uncertainties are the precise form that revolution will take; who will be the winners and losers; and how long it will be before it takes root.
Driven by passionate advocates of Mobility as a Service or – MaaS – a wide range of projects and different approaches are being developed worldwide.
It is that move from concept to practical delivery that will be the central focus of ITS International’s second MaaS Market conference in London next spring. The event will take place on 20 and 21 February at the Inmarsat Conference Centre on the so-called “Silicon Roundabout”, in the heart of London’s booming tech district.
MaaS Market is a two-day, international conference for all organisations committed to exploring new ways of getting people to their destination and new ways for them to pay for transport services.
Following the successful launch event earlier this year, the 2018 conference will give delegates the chance to hear about the very latest technological and business innovations, and from project leaders from around the world.
Attending will also provide ample opportunities to network with local and national government agencies, service providers and suppliers, financiers and senior transport planners.
The speed with which MaaS is moving into the political and business mainstream is surprising even its most ardent advocates and the conference will highlight some of the most advanced and ambitious projects.
Work testing MaaS projects and approaches has been underway in Sweden for some time and the conference will draw on experiences to date of attempts to develop services in Stockholm and Gothenburg from experts closely involved with the process.
From Hamburg in Germany, Sascha Westermann, head of the city’s management office for ITS Projects will present the latest news on its plans to reform their transport systems and networks.
Hamburg is working with MOIA, the mobility company in the Volkswagen Group. As part of this project, an on-demand shuttle service with electric vehicles is set to go into operation in 2018. This service will supplement the public transport network and – the promoters hope – will represent an attractive alternative to travelling by car.
In the UK, the Whim mobility app has been recently launched in the West Midlands region offering National Express bus and metro tickets, routes and timetables as well as Gett taxi services. Whim is available on a pay-per-ride basis to consumers who have signed up. The next steps are to make the service available to all West Midlands commuters and to introduce monthly packages and additional transport modes, such as coaches, rail and city bikes. Whim has been available in the Helsinki area, Finland, from 2016 – the home of Whim’s developer MaaS Global.
At the conference, the latest global developments will be covered by Sampo Hietanen, CEO of MaaS Global, while Chris Lane, head of Smart Travel and Transport for West Midlands will present details of his region’s progress to date.
In Manchester, Transport for Greater Manchester has launched a MaaS research project with the engineering consultancy Atkins.
The project will use smart technology to study how people could, in the future, plan and pay for their door-to-door journey - trams, buses, bike hire and even ride-sharing - in one transaction, with the aim of reducing congestion and pollution.
Meanwhile in London, Transport for London seems to be adopting a more evolutionary approach. It is increasing pressure on polluting car and commercial vehicles while supporting bike and car sharing, promoting the use of its popular oyster card and contactless card payment systems and pushing hard for higher levels of public transport investment.
Some in the technology sector can’t see what the fuss is about. For them MaaS is simply about developing an app that allows the user to plan, book and pay for travel across different platforms – whether that be road, rail, metro, taxi, car, bike or driverless pod. What could be more straightforward?
But such a development will completely disrupt the existing transport providers and raises major questions about the role of the state authorities (how will MaaS work in a free market?). Then there is the impact of autonomous vehicles and the long-term future of the car manufacturing sector if we no longer need so many of their products to commute or take the kids to school.
Some vertical transport companies have declined to be involved in MaaS experiments, fearful that it will destroy their existing business models before they have had a chance to rethink their strategies. Others prefer to embrace and adapt to what they see as an inevitability.
Many major social questions remain unresolved. These range from the first and last mile issue to how MaaS will work for the disabled or a parent carrying two toddlers and the week’s shopping.
And there’s the rub. Does MaaS have a practical, commercially sound and politically acceptable future? Or will it remain a pipedream of evangelical technologists?
But what is the alternative as having a car that drives itself does not necessarily reduce the number of vehicles on the road or the level of pollution?
What is clear is that our current policies and transport systems will not remain as they are for long.
Stop Press – MaaS Market in Atlanta
ITS International is launching a third MaaS Market – Concept to Delivery conference in Atlanta, USA on 9 and 10 May 2018. Supported by the Georgia State Road & Tollway Authority and the City of Atlanta, this two-day event will explore the concept and examine the practicalities of MaaS from both the domestic (US) and international perspectives.
The conference will bring together transport project leaders and technology experts from across the USA along with examples of MaaS developments in Europe.
One of the key themes will be how technology can create more efficient and cost-effective transport strategies, boosting social mobility and employment, by making it easier for communities to access jobs.
• For more information, go to www.maas-market.com.