Published on in TransportReshaping Business

The digital era has seen the rise of a new type of business model: as a service (aaS).

Today, almost anything can be delivered as a service – and mobility is no different.

Mobility as a service (MaaS) is on the rise, and it’s bringing together different types of transport in new ways.

Passengers just want to get from A to B. Typically, they don’t really care how they do it – whether they use more than one provider, or whether they are moving from public to private forms of transport.

Mobility as a service is all about creating one seamless journey from all of these different options.

This is enabled by combining transportation services from public and private providers through a unified gateway that creates and manages the trip, which users can pay for with a single account.

In this way, MaaS is optimising people’s movements around the city, giving people the best model of transport when they need it.

And, for me, mobility as a service also serves an important social function:  it helps us make transport safer, quicker, easier to access for those with different needs.

In this blog post, I’m going to explain how.

Collaboration is key

Currently, a quarter (25%) of British citizens thinks the public transport sector is not fit for purpose.

This figure is worryingly high. How do we bring it down?

Efficiency is a major challenge to be addressed. When there’s an incident on the network, and everyone gets disrupted, it naturally leaves a bad impression.

We can avoid, or at least mitigate, some of these issues through the clever use of data. When there’s an incident, we should be able to optimise the journey for the people who might be affected by it.

This level of situational awareness is only made possible when transport operators share data with one another.

Ultimately, it starts by integrating a platform and sharing resources – the very principle which underlies the whole MaaS model.

Hopefully the integration required to build mobility as a service will be a step in the direction of more extensive collaboration between transport organisations, of the public and private kind.

Personalise for the best passenger experience

Another big factor in mobility as a service is personalisation.

In any service model, you have to understand what the customers like and dislike.

Does this passenger like walking for some of their journey? Do they prefer a longer journey time with fewer changes?

This is really important in helping people enjoy their experience of transport.

When you put people at the heart of the service – when you make it human-centric, as we say at Fujitsu – you will start to build a better image for the transport sector.

It’s important that we do change the perception of public transport, because we want to encourage people to move away from private forms of transportation where possible.

Reducing the number of cars on the roads, for example, is part of the smart city agenda. It makes our urban spaces greener, and less polluted – which is why the Mayor of London has imposed an Ultra Low Emission Zone in the central areas of the city.

Smarter public transport, in an MaaS model, helps support this.

Services which work for everyone

If you use it regularly, transport makes a big difference to your life.

People will move jobs, neighbourhoods, and even cities if they have a terrible time trying to get around. This is especially true in the UK, where workers commute for longer each day than any of their European counterparts.

So the shift to MaaS presents a big bigger opportunity to do something that really impacts people’s lives.

Of course, it comes with a big challenge: how do we make sure the benefits brought about by mobility as a service are accessible to everyone?

The older generation will need to utilise transport services, and so there’s a question there around ensuring we don’t leave them behind – especially if they don’t like using tech. For example in Japan, Fujitsu is piloting on-demand ride hailing service and we bring not only smartphone apps but also very analogue call centre feature for those elderly people to book a ride.

We also need to be very aware of not excluding people who have different needs, like those who need ramps, lifts or guidance on the platform.

And what about single parents who are trying to move through the network with little children? We need to optimise their journey so it’s easy for them: safe, simple, and without lots of changes where little people can get lost.

In this sense the challenge in building MaaS is not the tech; it’s more about how we embed mass appeal into it.

Personalisation is key here, since it will allow users to choose options that suit their needs best. A parent, for instance, will be able to set their preferences to a family-friendly route.

Public transport with private-level experience

For years, the convenience of using private transport compared with public services has meant that many people avoid using the latter, in spite of the difference in cost.

Cheaper e-hailing services have contributed to this decline in recent times, leaving public transport looking under-resourced and outdated in comparison.

Mobility as a service holds the potential to completely transform this perception among consumers. At last, people will be able to use public transport in a way that’s personalised to the needs of the individual – as if they were using private transport.

With the foundations for a more efficient MaaS model in place, it’s now a matter of business and governments working closely together to improve services.

We’re really close to getting it right. And when we do, it will make a huge difference to citizens and passengers everywhere.

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