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The reality of MaaS has arrived, by Ben Foulser, associate director, Infrastructure Advisory Practice, KPMG

Mobility-as-a-Service enhances the user experience and can achieve key policy objectives such as economic growth and transport network resilience

The reality of MaaS has arrived, by Ben Foulser, associate director, Infrastructure Advisory Practice, KPMG

The smart city movement has undergone more than its fair share of Blue Sky thinking. Thanks to these visions of the future, it is now widely accepted that our mobility -- the way we travel about -- especially in large urban areas, will be dramatically different from today.


However, we’ve arrived at a point where this thinking has hit tangible reality. We’re already witnessing the impact of digital disruption on our transportation systems bought about by technological innovation. Demand-responsive private sector services such as Uber and its variants, on-demand cycle hire, electric and autonomous vehicles, integrated multi-modal journey planning and payment solutions are all part of our daily life right now.


Cities such as Vienna and Helsinki are demonstrating a new travel paradigm known as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) which not only enhances the user experience but which, if designed in an appropriate manner, can also be leveraged to achieve key policy objectives such as economic growth and resilience of the transport network.


In Helsinki, for example, citizens use the travel app Whim to select their preferred mode of transport be it train, bus, taxi, bike or tram. Where they need to switch mode mid journey, the app enables them to plan and, where necessary, adjust their route in real time to minimise hassle and delay. Payment is also handled by Whim either by pre-pay or a payment card registered to an account.


The term “MaaS” has, until recently, referred solely to the provision of on-demand mobility services such as Uber, but a broader definition is emerging to encompass the integration between private and public mobility services, enabling customers to use whichever mode – or indeed modes – of travel that best meet their requirements, in a seamless, fluid manner. When commercial benefits to operators and policy benefits to authorities are added to this seamless integration MaaS becomes a highly compelling opportunity and proposition.


Commercial operators seek to maximise their financial returns, and include market disruptors such as Uber and OhBike for example, while authorities are in the business of providing policy objectives such as delivering economic growth, space optimisation, social inclusion, citizen health and well being. Other considerations such as air quality, congestion management and aesthetic impact also have to be taken into account.


MaaS offers a joined-up approach to mobility. In many ways, it’s interdependence for the greater good. However, private mobility services operators/providers and transport authorities nominally each have different objectives, and so the task is to create transparency, establishing conditions in which the best outcomes for each stakeholder -- including the user who is central to the service -- is achieved.


This is the driver for KPMG’s MaaS Requirement Index -- a tool that allows operators and authorities to understand the optimum level of regulation and policy needed to achieve the objectives of the latter, whilst balancing the commercial needs of operators.


Currently, the Index identifies where an authority is, helps it to understand where it should be, and where it could be in the future. It provides a tool to help identify the correct balance between the interests of customers, operators and authorities. In doing so it can then help to configure the range of mobility options for users to achieve the objectives of each, at the same time recognising the need for compromise on all sides. Future versions will analyse the regulatory, commercial, governance, payment and technology scheme operating models and that will be most applicable under the different scheme configurations.


Lastly, if you’re interested as to where your authority stands on the MaaS Index, here are five quick questions to consider:

  1. What is the complexity of modal choice in your area
  2. How easy is it to achieve key policy objectives, such as good air quality, reduced congestion, public health, economic growth and the avoidance of over-crowding?
  3. What is the mix of public and private sector operators in your context? What is the balance of commercial, economic and policy objectives?
  4. How seamless is journey planning and payment within your region and neighbouring regions? To what extent does inertia in payments and planning impact mobility choices?
  5. What happens when things go wrong? Is your transport ecosystem resilient? If one mode fails, can others take up the slack? Does this apply to all customer segments?


Ben Foulser is an Associate Director in KPMG’s Transport Advisory Practice. He helps lead KPMG’s team providing consultancy services to transport operators and authorities worldwide with respect to integrated and intelligent transport including smart ticketing/mobility payment systems, journey planning and customer information services, Command & Control solutions (including advanced traffic management and signalling), and asset management. KPMG advises clients across the technology life cycle, from costed options appraisals and development of technology strategy and operating models through to requirements definition, sourcing, project management and operational assurance.



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