By providing users with a single platform where they can plan, book, and pay for public transport, can MaaS make travel an attractive user experience?
The concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS), where users can plan, book, and pay for multiple types of transport service through a single platform, has become a reality in many cities worldwide, successfully reducing private car use.
In the UK, the question is less about whether MaaS providers can replicate this experience of best value, where complex orders can be placed with a swipe of a finger – the aim is to make travel just as attractive and accessible as other popular user experiences.
While 2050 – when the UK Government has set a target of net zero for greenhouse gas emissions – may seem a long way off, much needs to be done now to ensure the UK remains on target.
Various initiatives across the nation are encouraging the public to play a more active role in reducing carbon emissions covering all aspects of our daily lives. Prominent among these is transport, where greater use of publicly available services is widely seen to be integral to achieving net zero goals, by reducing private car use for work and leisure journeys.
Unfortunately, many obstacles remain before this can become a reality.
In theory, given the continued soaring costs of fuel, public transport should become an increasingly attractive option. But the drive to be ‘green’ cannot override the need for people to get to places on time – and concerns over punctuality and reliability are only heightened by recent instances of industrial action. Many travellers are also concerned about personal safety when waiting for or travelling by public transport.
Meanwhile, journey planning can still be a disjointed and dispiriting experience. Public transport services in the UK are run by multiple operators, even in the same cities, meaning different transport modes do not always connect as efficiently and conveniently as they ideally should. Timetables are still challenging to navigate for some, even where services are reliable.
And while trying to arrive at the ideal journey plan, costs for each leg of the journey have to be reconciled too.
This issue is exacerbated by the number of outlets where tickets can be purchased. More than a dozen websites offer the sale of rail tickets in the UK alone, meaning travellers can rarely be sure whether they are purchasing the right ticket – peak or off-peak, open or closed return, for example – or getting the best deal. The whole user experience is far more difficult than it needs to be and it’s perhaps no surprise that many still opt for private car use for most journeys.
All this flies in the face of the streamlined and highly integrated user experiences offered by the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Google and Spotify across multiple platforms.
The concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS), where users can plan, book, and pay for multiple types of transport service through a single platform, has become a reality in many countries and cities worldwide, with significant outcomes in reducing private car use.
However, in the UK, the key question is less about whether MaaS providers can replicate this experience of best value, where complex orders can be placed with a swipe of a finger. The aim is to make travel just as attractive and accessible as other popular user experiences.
That means adopting models which go beyond solely getting people into and out of city centres, instead focusing on region-wide approaches covering airports, business parks and retail parks too.
Such approaches are based on ‘door to door’ transport and so incorporate first and last mile options, such as bikes. Even where delivered by rival operators, services must interconnect meaningfully, while real time information needs to be available on services and delays, with alternatives recommended.
Most importantly of all, the power of analysed data must be exploited to the maximum – understand what people’s true travel needs are and offer them alternative routes that might be greener, quicker, more comfortable, or less expensive. And that same data can be used to plan and ‘join up’ services based on actual evidence rather than retrospective snapshots of the past.
Policymakers and transport providers have a clear responsibility here to work together to ensure a truly seamless service – working with specialist providers such as Worldline in the area of payments – and to repackage and promote public transport as a viable option, delivering transparency, best value pricing, end-to-end convenience as well as vital environmental benefits.
Paid promotion supported by Worldline,