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How can we achieve Mobility as a Service?

John Bradburn | 17 Mar 2016 | Comments

The average UK household spends £324 per month on transport, according to the Office for National Statistics, and most of us probably don’t even realise it. For many households, that cost is sunk into their car, and it’s a cost we accept even though our road networks are suffering from heavy usage and we spend increasing amounts of time stuck in traffic. Others are tied to their train season ticket. Is it time to start thinking more creatively about the way we consume transport and spend our hard earned cash on it?

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is one such innovation, providing a new approach to the way in which transport is delivered, managed and consumed. Often talked about conceptually, over the past year we have seen growing interest in thoughts of practically delivering MaaS – driven on by the launch of MaaS Finland, which will oversee the launch of MaaS across the Nordic country.

What is MaaS?

"Mobility as a Service brings every kind of transport together into a single intuitive mobile app. It seamlessly combines transport options from different providers, handling everything from travel planning to payments. Whether you prefer to buy journeys on demand or subscribe to an affordable monthly package, MaaS manages your travel needs in the smartest way possible." MaaS Finland.

The easiest way to think about MaaS is to compare it to your mobile phone subscription. Your network provider may offer you a package deal, bundling a certain number of minutes, SMS messages and data. MaaS works in a similar way, offering different mobility packages to consumers, covering access to a range of modes, for example a monthly package might be made up of:

  • 30 public transport rides
  • 20 hours of car hire time
  • Unlimited bike hire
  • 5 taxi trips

Consumers would select the most appropriate package, opening up a range of modes for easy use through one integrated service.

The case for MaaS

For the consumer, MaaS will deliver an improved journey experience through the increased choice, easier journey planning and seamless ticketing and payment that MaaS promises. Replacing car ownership with a MaaS subscription could also deliver financial savings to users who no longer need to pay for a car that, according to Forbes, sits empty for 95% of the day on average.

For the public sector, part of the business case for supporting MaaS relates to the numerous public policy goals that MaaS supports – such as improving network efficiency. The cost of congestion to the UK economy is £4.3bn per year, and MaaS could help relieve this through more efficient use of the transport network, with a reduction in single occupancy vehicle usage. The knock on effect of this supports other policy goals – such as improving air quality, which would help reduce the 40,000 deaths each year in the UK that are attributed to poor air quality.

The benefits for the private sector will come from capturing a fraction of the £324 per month that the average UK household spends on travel. Furthermore, the data generated by MaaS will create opportunities for new business models to emerge.

Delivering MaaS in UK cities

At Atkins we’ve been working with our clients to unpack the case for MaaS, such as in the West Midlands where we have been working with the Integrated Transport Authority. Whilst there is still much work to be done across the sector, we believe the potential benefits of MaaS are clear. Our thoughts are therefore turning to how MaaS can be delivered within UK cities, a topic that I will be exploring at the Smarter Travel Live Conference 2016.

For more information on MaaS, read our Journeys of the Future White Paper.