Mobility as a Service (MaaS) was the highlight of last Friday’s ERTICO Academy webinar. A hot topic in the smart mobility sphere, a record number of 150 mobility enthusiasts attended this interactive exchange on MaaS, discussing its impact on CO2 emissions, modal shift as well as future predictions. Concerns were also raised about the uncertainties created by the current health crisis and how it might impact transport solutions beyond 2020. Guest speakers from the UK and the US engaged in some seriously burning questions.
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) refers to the integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. It is an important topic in the Academy Webinar series, due to ERTICO’s experience of supporting European deployment of MaaS and ERTICO’s close allegiance to the MaaS Alliance. A soon-to-be launched initiative will cement this commitment even further: “The new ERTICO City Moonshot will consult 300 cities worldwide about their experience with and plans for shared mobility programmes, data sharing and city policy objectives on climate crisis and urban air pollution. This is an amazing opportunity to become involved in a global survey and ERTICO is calling all cities to join us”, says Zeljko Jeftic, Deputy Director Innovation and Deployment at ERTICO.
Many European regions already provide a model example of MaaS in practice. With the goal of bringing more zero-carbon solutions and a modal shift to public as well as active transport, ERTICO Partner Transport for West Midlands is a frontrunner for shared mobility solutions. “MaaS is increasingly of interest on national level. Our Department for Transport just recently announced additional Future Transport Zones, which provide opportunities for closer collaboration. MaaS is a key element in each of these zones”, says Keelan Fadder-Hopper, Senior Future Mobility Developer, Transport for West Midlands. In the framework of its recent climate emergency declaration, the region aims at achieving its target of net zero emissions by 2041, not only through modal shift but additionally by reducing the travel demand. “As Transport Authority we need to take more of a leading role, act as a facilitator and engage with transport operators. Otherwise we will not have a successful MaaS integration”, concludes Fadder-Hopper. The current health crisis provides opportunities for MaaS development: “The crisis has caused change in a way that we operate our services. We have to be aware that in the future the role of the state as an intervener can change quite significantly”, Fadder-Hopper continues. “When we design Mobility as a Service systems we need to build an ecosystem that’s adaptable. Bearing in mind policy uncertainty we have to build an ecosystem which allows public authorities to have policy leaders than designing a system that is built for just one specific policy.”
Picking up on the uncertainty aspect, PTV Germany’s Oslo study builds upon the assumption that autonomous transit, such as autonomous vehicles and MaaS-based car sharing schemes, will change transport in the cities of the future. “When forecasting the future in traffic we need to look at trends. In today’s environment we have some mega trends such as technology trends, urbanisation, the climate agenda etc. However, forecasting a future is a tricky business. A critical uncertainty is that we don’t know how citizens will react to these trends in the future”, states Paul Speirs, Director at PTV Group. To counter this, the Oslo study simulates four scenarios of the future. The study is inspired by the Lisbon study by the ITF-OECD. It is the first study of its kind in Scandinavia, and among the first worldwide. In its conclusion, the study shows that “shared transportation with a high level of service will not be sufficient to reach the traffic reduction targets in the Oslo region and will challenge road capacity. Hence, we cannot solely rely on autonomous vehicles in a MaaS concept to cater for all our transportation needs. Traditional public transport combined with cycling and walking will be key elements in solving future urban mobility”.
Besides enhancing seamless mobility on demand, MaaS can provide mobility options to help vulnerable and underserved communities. This very unique approach is taken by Feonix – Mobility Rising, based in Nebraska, USA. The company uses state-of-the-art technology to solve global challenges in mobility for vulnerable communities across five states in the US. “Feonix is the person-centered approach to supporting communities in creating MaaS. We use MaaS to solve transportation challenges by establishing community leadership groups to address the barriers, partnering with local public transportation, ride-sharing and private transport providers and developing networks of volunteer drivers to fill the gaps”, explains Valerie Lefler, Executive Director at Feonix – Mobility Rising. In times of COVID-19 the company expands its service offering to grocery and prescription deliveries.
Mobility as a Service is multifaceted. The webinar has shown a variety of MaaS solutions which all have the users at their core interest. Regulations, uncertainty in user acceptance, and private operator integration are challenges that still need to be tackled to ensure MaaS will work successfully in the future.
Listen to the recording here (1h36m).