UK launches inquiry into potential of Mobility as a Service

greenwood lilian

A committtee of UK MPs has launched an inquiry into the transformative potential of Mobility as a Service apps and how to overcome barriers to their implementation.

The Transport Select Committee is calling for written evidence to be submitted by Friday, 22 December 2017.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a broad term for a range of digital transport service platforms, from online car and bike-sharing schemes to high-profile taxi and private hire smartphone apps, such as Uber.

The apps offer on-demand transport services and have to potential to transform how people, particularly younger people in cities, consume urban transport.

But, while door-to-door journeys in cities tend to utilise several transport modes, covering walking, cycling, taxi, train and bus, the most popular smartphone apps to date have tended to be single mode, typically taxis and minicabs.

Supporters of MaaS, in which multiple modes of transport are brought together under a single app, believe it has the potential to make getting around via public and shared transport so convenient it will negate the need for people in and around cities to own their own car, with potential benefits in relation to urban congestion, air pollution and health.

The committee is calling for written evidence addressing a number of key issues.

It is looking for global evidence on the effectiveness of integrated, multi-mode MaaS apps and views on overcoming barriers to implementation, including issues relating to transport providers sharing data, customers and revenue.

It will also discuss the role central government should play and how to manage concerns about ensuring mobility apps are accessible for all.

Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said: “Integrating urban transport modes into a single, integrated MaaS app represents a really exciting opportunity to transform how we get around in cities.

“This could substantially reduce reliance on the private car; ease congestion; increase productivity; and lead to more pleasant, healthier cities with better air quality.

“Integrated MaaS is a much talked about concept, but it is not generally well understood. We want to increase public understanding, find out if the bold claims are justified and, if they are, recommend ways of overcoming some of the barriers to implementation in the UK.”

Earlier this year, Toyota Financial Services announced it had invested in Finnish mobility services company MaaS Global as part of a €10 million funding round to fund its global growth.

The investment round, which also included funding from Toyota FS insurance partner Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Company, matches both investors´ strategic aims of making mobility services a part of their business as interest in car ownership declines in big cities.

MaaS Global is a developer of the ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS) concept, and has created a smartphone app called Whim that enables users to book and reserve several transport options in a single payment and booking system.

Whim-users enter their destination and the app offers the best travel options from thousands of potential combinations.

This summer, the app launched in the UK, starting in Birmingham, with a global roll-out planned.

Sampo Hietanen, founder and CEO of MaaS Global (pictured above), who is believed to have coined the phrase ‘Mobility as a Service’, sees the economics of mobility as being roughly similar in nature to the way consumers pay for mobile phones.

The average revenue that a company providing telecoms as a service can currently draw from an individual consumer to meet their telecommunication needs, he argues, is about €30 per month. In the same vein, the average revenue that an equivalent operator, offering mobility as a service, should be able to draw is 10 times that amount – €300 per month.

Hietanen will be providing an update on the roll-out of Whim at the International Auto Finance Network Conference in London, on January 26, 2018.

Mobility as a Service Transport Committee inquiry

More information on the International Auto Finance Network Conference