Mobility as a Service – Part Two: What problem is it trying to solve?

Welcome to Part Two of our Mobility as a Service three blog series.

Re-capping from last week, we now know what Mobility as a Service is and the concept behind it, but what is the problem that MaaS is trying to solve?

Is it the environmental and social problems that relate to car ownership? How can we reduce emissions and get more people using public and low emission transport for some parts, or all, of their journeys?

How about congestion? Can we free up parking space that is taken up by cars sitting unused day after day in front of our homes for other purposes?

But is it just about cars or is there something more fundamental about giving people more choice and flexibility about how they move around?

To examine this, we need to focus on more interconnected models, and employ a human perspective when we examine changing behaviours. The starting point is looking at the different journeys we make, understanding some of the pain points we endure and to what extent our needs are or are not met by current transport systems.

The Transport Systems Catapult Traveller Needs study is a good reference point for exploring what people need from transport systems and identifying some of the opportunities that could emerge. One conclusion from their research into MaaS is that fully addressing these needs and thus providing a better experience requires deeper integration between services on every level. This produces new barriers as we need more operators and organisations to join forces to deliver effectively personalised services.

The key seems to be about taking a wider perspective and understanding how transport and mobility fit within our different lifestyles. MaaS solutions seem more compelling when you imagine a specific scenario, for example getting the kids to school in the morning, travel to a work meeting, meeting up with friends and going to a gig.

The kind of immersive, ethnographic research that CCD carries out can be revealing. It shows how experience, motivation and social and cultural norms might impact the service design. From this kind of approach, one of the major UK airports has learnt around 80% of passengers land with no firm plan in place for their onward journey.

Furthermore, they can see how cultural norms drive the subsequent behaviour – for example, passengers from the US tend to jump straight into a cab without considering other modes.

These kinds of insights raise valuable design questions for how a MaaS solution might help to show different transport options and potentially change behaviours. How would the solution work for visitors to a city who have different needs and experiences from residents?

There are many challenges to creating and implementing an interconnected solution. Not only do we need to consider the different types of users and their lifestyles, but how to bring different infrastructure and providers together.

Check back next week, when we will examine the challenges and limitations of trying to create a fully integrated MaaS system.

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Stephanie Clarke

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