John Bradburn

UK & Europe

John is a consultant in Intelligent Mobility, drawing on a range of experience across the land use planning, highways and rail sectors to support the team in understanding how new technologies, innovations and changing consumer behaviour will influence future mobility systems.

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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.

UK & Europe,

Last month Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, boasted how Londoners and visitors from around the world are embracing the use of contactless technology across the city’s transport network  - with an impressive array of statistics to back up the claim. 27% of all pay as you go journeys on tube and rail services are now made using contactless, contributing to a staggering 300 million journeys since the initial role out of the technology across the network with one million transactions per day.

Contactless in the UK
Transport for London (TfL) first began accepting contactless card payments in December 2012 on London buses. A further roll out in September 2014 brought contactless payments to the tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, and most National Rail services in London. And it seems this growth is set to continue – with TfL announcing that all London black cabs will accept contactless payments from October 2016 . Contactless payments on London transport have been so successful that around one in seven of all contactless transactions in the UK now take place on London transport.

The success of contactless payments isn’t just limited to TfL’s network - last month it was reported that contactless payments in general now constitute as much as 10% of all payments - an impressive proportion given only a year before the same figures stood at 3.7% . There is therefore a clear appetite for contactless payment from much of the public.

So whilst contactless payment has become the norm for London commuters and visitors, what of the rest of the UK? In my home city of Birmingham, transport operators are yet to adopt contactless payment – though the Swift Card (Birmingham’s answer to the Oyster Card) is finally being rolled out. Meanwhile Manchester – which ditched plans for a its own version of the Oyster Card late last year  - is looking to adopt on-board contactless payments across its network at some point in the future. 

If our leading cities are struggling to adapt to contactless payments – London excused– what of rural transport networks? With cuts to council funding, many rural bus services face the threat of reduced subsides , so it seems unlikely that investment in technology to accept contactless payments will come soon. 

There is perhaps one glimmer of hope for all those public transport users outside London – the recent announcement of a national framework for the UK wide roll out of contactless payments across train and bus networks . What’s interesting to note about this framework is that it isn’t led by government or transport operators, but by the card payments industry itself, in the form of The UK Card Association. This development is a positive move that could eventually lead to the use of contactless payments across the UK transport network, though it will be down to traditionally conservative transport operators to push forward with the proposals.

And what about the end user? Whilst many younger people are happy to use contactless payment, does the age-old claim that older people struggle to adapt to new technologies apply here? In such cases it’s useful to look wider to learn from other experiences, for example the impact of the closure of high-street banks. Many forecasted that older people would be hardest hit by bank closures , and whilst it’s regretful if some older people have been negatively affected, many more have adapted to this new reality and have taken to online banking in droves – as evidenced by research showing that ‘silver surfers’ are the fastest adopters of digital banking.

One bank deployed an age-simulation suit for use by staff so that they could experience some of the physical effects of ageing. The suits limit movement using weights and mimic sight and hearing deficiencies, and helps staff test how easy it is for older people to use branch, internet and telephone banking services .

We should learn from this, and help older people adapt to new technologies rather than presuming their ignorance. There is no reason older people, already users of debit and credit cards, could not use contactless payment – after all, bus users in London adapted to the suspension of cash payments on TfL’s bus network in July 2014.

So what for the year ahead? My prediction for 2016 is perhaps quite mundane: that contactless payments will continue steady growth – with the proportion of payments by NFC equipped phones and other devices also rising. I also predict that we will see transport users continuing to expect, and perhaps demand, that contactless payment technology on public transport outside London become normalised – particularly on the National Rail network, as technology savvy commuters expect more for their money.

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UK & Europe,

There’s no denying that Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) are coming. Lower levels of autonomous capability can already be seen in cars available today – such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping. But no-one really knows yet how long it will before highly autonomous vehicles are on our roads and how much time we have to benefit from their development.

We’re in a global race to exploit the economic opportunities provided by CAVs, from the intellectual property generated in the design of such vehicles, to their testing, validation and production. With our strong automotive heritage and history of innovation, the UK should be trailblazing the development of CAVs and reaping the economic rewards. The UK government’s Code of Practice for the testing of autonomous vehicles and ongoing CAV trials across the country – including VENTURER in Bristol, mean we are in a good starting position. But more must be done to build on this competitive advantage to ensure the UK benefits economically from the development of CAVs, before time beats us and we lose out in this global race.

Now is the time for greater investment to exploit the growth potential of this emerging industry. The UK must maximise the opportunities that regulation currently provides and aggressively target market growth in the areas of testing and validation. We must work to understand what society expects from CAVs, the expectations of different user groups and the challenges that will emerge in their adoption. Beyond this, we need to understand what CAVs will mean for the transport system as a whole and the opportunities they provide to deliver a more seamless travelling experience through journey management. In terms of mobility, we must also understand the opportunities provided to broaden travel horizons for those with limited mobility – such as the elderly, infirm and the young.

Alongside this, our cities must work to understand how CAVs will impact upon them – from changing travel behaviours to capacity management and vehicle emissions. They must also take action to prepare for the arrival of CAVs, by developing their highway and digital infrastructure – such as installing the infrastructure to support connected vehicle technologies – and ensuring they have a resilient and secure cyber network. At the same time, companies must look to how they can exploit this opportunity and develop new operating models to reap the reward.

Now is the time to act. We must continue to invest in CAV research and development and ensure we are best prepared for their arrival in order to maximise the opportunities this new technology brings.

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UK & Europe,

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) last week announced that it had terminated its contract with Atos to design, build and operate an Oyster-style smartcard across its transport network, with TfGM questioning whether the technology behind smart cards is now obsolete (source: The recent launch of Apple Pay in the UK, allowing London Underground commuters to swap out their Oyster card for their iPhone 6, suggests that TfGM may be right, with technology having progressed faster than many have realised. Given these developments, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on how such technologies could impact on how we interact with the transport networks around us.

The technology behind Apple Pay – mobile embedded near field communication (NFC) chips, similar technology used in contactless credit cards – is not new. The Japanese have had NFC enabled mobiles for over a decade, using their phones to pay for a variety of goods and services – from convenience stores to vending machines. The technology is now finely ingrained within the country’s transport network, covering buses, taxis, airline tickets, underground systems and of course, the Shinkansen high speed rail network. Apple and others like Google and Samsung are merely playing a rather delayed game of catch up, driven by the high adoption rate of smart phone technology, rising consumer expectations and improved connectivity.

The use of credit cards and NFC enabled devices marks a wider trend towards account based ticketing amongst transport service providers. Traditionally, transport system payments have been card based tickets (be it in the form of paper tickets or tokens), with a passenger buying a ticket or card, which gives them access to the transport network. Where access cards are used, such as the Oyster card, all information is held on the card itself. This approach, developed at a time when communications infrastructure were far slower than today, is an expensive one for transport operators – requiring sales infrastructure (ticket offices and machines), as well as the costs of producing and distributing the tickets themselves. Account based ticketing bypasses the need for a passenger to purchase tickets, theoretically allowing a passenger to gain access to the transport system through any form of contactless device linked to their payment account, such as an account card (Oyster), phone, watch or personal ID card.

The benefits for passengers to such an approach would be vast: mobile phones would become one-stop-portals for journey planning, ticketing and payment. Gone would be the days of worrying about having the correct change, or which ticket would be best for your journey – with the back office system calculating the cheapest price for your journey after its completion. Opportunities for further development are abound – from personalised and specific journey updates to truly flexible multi-modal journeys within one ticket – a vision set out in Atkins’ white paper on Journeys of the Future.

For operators, the benefits of account based ticketing are also persuasive. Lower upfront and ongoing costs for the technology will provide direct financial savings (operators will not have to issue, maintain and replace tickets or cards themselves), whilst mobile commerce and targeted advertising could provide a lucrative revenue stream. Account based ticketing also provides an opportunity for operational efficiency improvements, for example by improving the accuracy and speed of ticket checking, and providing authorities and operators with highly detailed passenger origin-destination data. Such are the benefits provided through this approach that TfL has announced its intentions to replace the technology in its Oyster Cards to allow for account based ticketing (source: Railway Gazette).

The key to this is the interoperability of account based ticketing systems and the expansion of such services. The ITSO standard was developed to ensure interoperability of smart card ticketing between transport operators in the UK, but has faced criticism over its slow progress (source: ITSO PDF). In securing the interoperability of account based ticketing systems, transport authorities and operators should consider the technical standards required, the customer experience of using the service and the opportunities the system creates for wider journey management.

Account based ticketing is one step towards improving the door-to-door journey experience for transport users, providing a customer centric approach to transport delivery and journey management. This will allow authorities and operators to better manage their transport assets, improve efficiencies and provide customers with personalised, accurate and specific details about their journey. As Apple transformed the music industry, journey management and the overall Intelligent Mobility market space offers similar opportunities for people and their mobility options, with account based ticketing being a step towards this which authorities and operators should be looking to harness.

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UK & Europe,

Connected and autonomous vehicle technologies are set to fundamentally transform our relationship with vehicles over the coming years. The potential benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles are so great that according to a recent KPMG study they could deliver £51bn in economic benefit per annum to the UK by 2030.

In their forecast KPMG have valued the improved user experience at £40bn (by far the greatest contributor to the overall £51bn benefit) being driven largely by increased productivity as users can work while they travel. The potential wider economic impacts of such vehicles are also substantial including reduced travel and freight costs, the better use of urban space and industry gains from developing and selling the technologies behind connected and autonomous vehicles.

These benefits tie in with the wider move towards Intelligent Mobility – a new way of thinking about how to better connect people, goods and services across all transport modes, improving the overall customer experience and supporting behavioural change. Central to this is the development and harnessing of new technologies and data sources, as well as an understanding of user behaviour, acceptability and adoption.

The move towards connected and autonomous vehicles comes at a time when the way in which we use transport is evolving. We see a greater desire amongst car drivers for access to mobility rather than ownership – with the uptake of car clubs and services such as Uber. This is reflected in the concept of Mobility as a Service which is focused on providing a single platform for presenting mobility options to the customer in a simple integrated manner. This will see connected and autonomous vehicles being one of several options available for users as part of an overall mobility package with the vehicles themselves potentially not being owned by the user but the manufacturer, mobility provider or local government.

At this early stage of the roadmap towards the adoption of fully autonomous vehicles, the development of innovative technology is key. In particular, the development of sensors and their integration within vehicles and road infrastructure pushes forward the ability for vehicles to connect with each other and the transport infrastructure. Further to this, the simulation of autonomous vehicles is crucial for fully understanding their impact.

Understanding the huge amount of data available and using more effective analytical techniques in order to develop improved products and services for users is great. But at the same time there is a huge need to understand what this will really mean for users once we can roll out new technologies, especially how we will interact with connected and autonomous vehicles, which is why Atkins is working as part of the Venturer consortium to better understand how such vehicles will interact with the urban environment and user acceptability towards them.

We must also ensure that the right environment is in place for the testing and subsequent adoption of these vehicles. The UK is already well placed with Government encouraging innovation and testing through the establishment of autonomous vehicle trials – as seen in Milton Keynes, Bristol, Coventry and Greenwich. However it is too easy to become complacent, there is a need to better develop and establish the right independent urban testing facilities for autonomous vehicles.

Government and industry must also ensure that the policy and regulatory environment keeps up with technological developments. Whilst the UK’s regulatory framework is currently favourable for the development of autonomous vehicles (noted by KPMG) as technology develops so must the relevant legislation. This is a central topic for the Venturer consortium which is working to understand the legal and insurance implications of autonomous vehicles.

The potential benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles are clear and the UK is well placed to achieve them both in terms of benefits to the user and the wider economic gains from being a leader in developing the technologies behind them. But we must not rest on our laurels; we must continue to innovate, ask questions and challenge ourselves.

> To continue the discussion on Intelligent Mobility, please join our dedicated LinkedIn Group

UK & Europe,