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MaaS: A world without traffic jams?

moovel’s vision is “a world without traffic jams”. Thomas Friderich shares his insights on how MaaS can help to make this a reality.

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This post is in association with moovel

 

moovel’s vision is “a world without traffic jams”. Its mobility solutions and apps are helping to simplify urban mobility and encourage people to switch to shared mobility in cities including Stuttgart, Los Angeles and Karlsruhe. Thomas Friderich, Head of Business Development at moovel, shares his insights on mobility-as-a-service (MaaS).

 

MaaS brings together the various transportation options in a city – such as public transport, shared bikes, ride-hailing services, on-demand options, etc. – and allows citizens to plan their route, choose their preferred mode of travel and book and pay for everything via one app.

 

(moovel will soon become REACH NOW as part of the mobility joint venture between Daimler AG and BMW Group).

 

SCW: Is MaaS right for all cities?

 

TF: For large cities, yes, it’s a good fit for everybody. Even when you look at rural areas or smaller towns – it might be more of a challenge and that may come later than in larger cities but generally, I think that this is a trend that we’re going to see globally.

 

SCW: Where are we in terms of MaaS deployment and adoption?

 

TF: Some cities are further ahead than others but I think it’s very high on the agenda. There are a few cities where we can see things really happening like Helsinki, for example.

 

There are smaller pilots in Germany as well which are going in a very similar direction. We are just at the start of a movement but we are seeing very promising progress.

 

We are just at the start of a movement but we are seeing very promising progress.

 

SCW: What role do you think the city plays in MaaS?

 

TF: There’s a lot of discussion about the best way to implement MaaS – whether it should be a private initiative led by industrial partners, or whether it should be something that is led by the government.

 

At moovel, we firmly believe that the city or the public transport authority should play a leading role. That’s why we partner with the city and offer our tools as white-label.

 

The most liveable cities today have a somewhat regulated environment, rather than a totally free market.

 

If you look at the development of Copenhagen, for example, you can clearly see how the government has taken the leading role investing in infrastructure and services, and given guidance and regulation on how the city should develop. This might make it slightly slower to achieve MaaS, but it’s more sustainable.

 

SCW: What are the challenges to MaaS?

 

TF: There’s no denying moving towards MaaS is a big task and it’s very complex because you have a lot of stakeholders with very different interests. It can be broken down into various fields, though.

 

One area is technology. This is where moovel can help because we can provide a completely standalone system as a white-label app which is customisable.

 

Another big challenge is the legal framework that comes with it. The city government or transportation authority’s role is to get all the stakeholders under one roof and find a win-win situation for everybody.

 

The city government or transportation authority’s role is to get all the stakeholders under one roof and find a win-win situation for everybody.

 

A further issue is the way we currently pay for mobility services. Tariffs are typically different for public transport, taxis, car-sharing, bike-sharing, scooters, etc. Sometimes it’s pay-as-you-go, sometimes variable tariffs, other times it’s a flat rate or even a monthly pass.

 

It’s not easy to find a way of combining that into a MaaS package but as MaaS advances, cities are finding ways ahead here.

 

SCW: Do cities need to have a certain level of maturity in particular areas before they move ahead with MaaS?

 

TF: The first foundation is a public transit authority which combines all the public transport services under one tariff.

 

That’s quite a big task which could slow the MaaS process down by a year or two but, I think, it’s an essential step.

 

Providing open data for public transport is also a critical foundational step, as is opening up the ticketing for other providers and asking all mobility providers to have the same openness.

 

For example, in Stuttgart, a new bike-sharing programme was put in place through a public tender. The tender document clearly stated that the new provider must provide open data interfaces for the MaaS platform.

 

The first foundation is a public transit authority which combines all the public transport services under one tariff.

 

SCW: moovel has been working closely with cities such as Stuttgart. What are your takeaways from this project so far?

 

TF: We’ve been active with our MaaS platform in Stuttgart for two years now. One key takeaway is that it takes time to develop these systems – not only from an IT point of view but also in terms of educating users and making them aware of the new opportunities available to them.

 

It’s a new way of organising personal mobility and it will change people’s behaviour, for sure.

 

We see excellent traction with new ways of managing tariffs – the BestPreis app, for example, calculates the best price for public transportation tickets. Users don’t have to worry about tariff systems, which are very, complex in Germany. They just check in and check out. The app totals the price for all journeys made by the user during the course of a month and calculates the best possible price. At the end of the invoicing period, the algorithm calculates an optimal combination of short-trip, single, day and monthly tickets, and the user is only charged the cheapest option.

 

Hence, users no longer have to search for the cheapest ticket option themselves.

 

We have also seen an increase in the usage of public transport in Stuttgart. It’s really proven that public transport is the backbone of mobility as a service.

 

SCW: How do you see MaaS evolving?

 

TF: In the short term, we will see a lot of new services – more scooter-sharing, more car-sharing, etc. Bike-sharing might have already peaked in terms of the number of providers and I think we will see some consolidation of the market.

 

That doesn’t mean we will see less usage of bike-sharing, but we will probably see only three or five big providers, compared to 10 or 20 now.

 

This year and early next year we will see an even broader range of different mobility services.

 

There will be more and more pilots which will combine those new services to create a one-stop shop for the various providers.

 

There will be more and more pilots which will combine those new services to create a one-stop shop for the various providers.

 

Another interesting area is taxation – especially when it comes to commuting. In some places in the US, for example, monthly passes can be deducted from tax, whereas in Germany it’s the other way around. Company cars are highly subsidised through the way they’re taxed.

 

Monthly passes are starting to be in some places but other forms of transportation, like car-sharing or bike-sharing, don’t typically have any taxation benefit – yet.

 

In about two or three years, we will see the first cities where MaaS will have significant traction, where the city or transportation authority has taken the leading role and fully implemented and marketed MaaS as the primary platform.

 

Download our Trend Report: Mobility as a Service - Cities on the move, published in partnership with moovel. It includes MaaS case studies and takeaways from projects in Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Manchester, Los Angeles and more.

 

 

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