As interest in Mobility as a Service (MaaS) grows, the MaaS Alliance continues to spread the word and promote MaaS at various events. Recently, on 29th March, MaaS Alliance Senior Manager Piia Karjalainen spoke at the Redefining Mobility Summit in Contra Costa, California. Organised by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and GoMentum Station, the summit gathered over 100 participants to discuss how innovation and cutting-edge technology is quickly revolutionising transportation.
The one-day event was hosted by Randell H. Iwasaki, Executive Director of CCTA, and featured speeches from high-level speakers from across the USA, including representatives of the University of California Berkeley (Co-Director Susan Shaheen), the Transport Research Board (Executive Director Neil Pedersen), and several companies providing advanced mobility solutions, like EasyMile, Gig, Amber and BlackBerry. Piia Karjalainen (MaaS Alliance), Jonna Pollanen (MaaS Global) and Christina Hvid (RejsePlan) were there to share their experiences of MaaS in Europe and spoke as part of the panel session “Bringing MaaS to the Masses”.
In her presentation, Piia explained the role of the MaaS Alliance in bringing together actors active in Mobility as a Service, regardless of whether they are public authorities, start-ups, operators, or established MaaS offerings. She also emphasized the key aspect of MaaS, the user, and the success factors or MaaS – it should be flexible, reliable, roamable, and based on the best local ingredients.
The summit coincided with the entry into force of landmark legislation on driverless vehicles in California, which was passed on 5th April and now allows driverless vehicles to be tested on Californian streets with the public. It is evident that (shared) autonomous vehicles are a hot topic in California, as more than 50 companies have already registered to test autonomous vehicles in California. The Redefining Mobility Summit participants had an opportunity to have a test ride with the EasyMile autonomous shuttle. The EasyMile EZ10 recently became the first driverless shuttle bus to receive approval to travel on public roads in California.
In addition to this legislation, California is also undergoing a period of infrastructure updates due to changes in customer demands. For example, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) operator is now replacing parking lots partially with drop-in / drop-off areas dedicated to transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, and shared vehicles. For the MaaS Alliance it was interesting to see that California is keen to develop its mobility system and base it on MaaS and automated shared vehicles.
After the event, Piia remarked that the summit had provided plenty of useful insights: “Extremely useful event! It’s nice to see how enthusiastic Contra Costa is about solving their mobility problems. It’s also great to see that this topic is a high priority in the USA and they have strong political support to explore new concepts. This was a good start for further collaboration which would be extremely useful for both parties”.