Mobility as a Service – Part 3: The challenges

Welcome to the last installment in our three-part Mobility as a Service series. So far, we’ve looked at what Mobility as a Service is trying to achieve and the problems it aims to solve. Today, we discuss the challenges faced by Mobility as a Service solutions.

One of the challenges for Mobility as a Service is about how it might grow from a proposition that appeals to young, affluent city dwellers to be more inclusive. The scenarios that get talked about seem to focus largely on this narrow demographic.

Elderly commutersCCD recently spoke at the Impart conference, and it was great to see Age UK discussing the role Mobility as a Service could play for the older population and those in more rural and remote communities. It is right that there should be strong social drivers for solutions like MaaS to help people travel more easily and avoid the problems of social isolation; the challenge remains finding the right business case for commercial operators to come and play.

There are major barriers to MaaS truly getting behind the narrow car-replacement services. As we mentioned earlier, the Transport Catapult roadmaps talk about the increasing level of integration and how this improves the customer experience. However, each increasing level of integration requires all the operating businesses to heighten their connections and collaborate, share data and rethink their business model.

The emerging world of autonomous vehicles will also be another form of MaaS. They could remove the need to own a car and could revolutionise mobility for some members of society, such as the blind or elderly. They may well prove to be popular as travellers dislike modal shifts in their journeys and autonomous vehicles are a ‘point A to point B solution’.  Would you rather take a bike, a train and a bus or have an autonomous car pick you up from home? A risk is that autonomous vehicles could, in turn, disrupt the current efforts of multi-modal MaaS solutions.

Man at train station using transport appFrom a customer perspective for MaaS to truly appeal, and for them to be the designers of a personalised service, users need access to as many choices as possible. The more operating companies collaborate, the better the potential service. Inflexible commercial offers and exclusive arrangements with a limited group of partners make for a much less usable and attractive service.

So, where will MaaS go?

The risk is that it loses sight that technology is only an enabler to the kind of services that customers might want and need. There are barriers to overcome, including collaboration between operators that may be inflexible and closed-minded.

Significant co-operation is needed at a higher industry level so that customers are empowered to build their own service, tailored to the needs of each and every journey they are making.

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David Watts

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