Delivering Intelligent Mobility in The Northern Powerhouse: Taking the UK from Transport to Mobility

Nathan Marsh | 21 Mar 2017 | Comments

The North is facing a point of inflection – political and fiscal devolution, the new dynamics of Mayors, as well as a pressing agenda of transport reform - all make for a critical point in the evolution of the North as a sub-national economic area.

Part of the North’s current and future attractiveness, to live, work, visit and invest, lies within is its connectivity and mobility network. However, the existing transport network is complex: an interlinked set of travel modes, routes and technologies, underpinned by a broad range of commercial contracts and structures.

This matters, as a key characteristic of an effective and attractive region is its physical and digital connectivity, both between and within cities, regions and towns.  As the North continues to grow, pressures on its network, also grow.

To increase connectivity on a constrained network, we need to think and act differently.  This is where intelligent mobility – the connection of people, places and services through reimagined infrastructure across all transport modes and enabled by data, technology and innovative ideas – can revolutionise how we approach these challenges.

One intelligent mobility approach is known as Mobility as a Service (MaaS). 

MaaS encourages people to think about their journeys in the whole context of getting from A to B, rather than as a series of constituent parts.  It is tailor-made around their individual needs and preferences. For example, users can pay for multi-modal journeys with a single account, pay per trip or via a monthly subscription to cover end-to-end, integrated journeys making the most of all travel modes such as rail to bike, park and ride, bus and walking.

The development of a seamless MaaS offering can deliver greater network efficiencies and tackle existing transport challenges by:

  • positively changing the behaviours of commuters to address challenges such as urbanisation, population growth and expanding towns and cities
  • reducing congestion and journey times, improving health and wellbeing from safer travel and reducing noise and pollution exposure.
  • improving strategic insight and aiding decision-making so the transport network can meet customer needs and changing preferences and behaviours.

These digitally and commercially enabled approaches (such as MaaS) require us to be organised and to operate differently in the future, using our existing physical infrastructure in new, and in some cases, unprecedented ways.

The publication of the Vehicle, Technology and Aviation Bill includes key measures to support the next generation of transport in the UK, providing a real opportunity for the regional transport strategy for the North to respond.

By planning for both incremental and transformative change and progress, the region can plan to unlock digital capability and innovations alongside its existing physical and commercial infrastructure.

The North has the scale, vision, ambition and capability to lead the UK in an improved intelligent mobility network – to drive and attract economic activity and retain its attractiveness as a great place to live, work and invest – moving from delivering transport, to improving mobility for all.