The EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc has called for 2018 to be the “Year of Multimodality”, in a bid to reduce CO2 emissions, congestion and air pollution, meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and maintain a competitive transport industry.

This requires a framework to be set in place to ensure integration between the different modes of transport to make it accessible, convenient and cost-effective. Issues such as first and last mile need to be addressed, alongside the technology to underpin successful urban mobility initiatives.

Businesses, governments and supporting organisations need to work together to make it economically viable. Citizens too need to embrace the idea of moving away from their reliance on privately owned vehicles in favour of multi-modal transport options.

In the second part of this series, we look at mobility as a service (MaaS) in three European cities – London, Berlin and Rome – to see how they are responding to the challenges and the strategies they are adopting. Read our first part on Maas in Europe here.

LONDON

The City has come a long way since the advent of ticketing integration, Oyster cards, cycle schemes and congestion charges. Vehicle-sharing and ride-hailing schemes entered the scene, offering alternative modes of transport to the private car user.

And it is not just the realm of the tech start-up. Apps like MyTaxi, BlaBlaCar and Hiyacar are seeing competition from traditional automotive firms like Mercedes-Benz which launched its own ride-sharing rival to Uber in London.

Research by the UCL Energy Institute found that overall Londoners were open to embracing MaaS, mainly due to flexible travel options, alongside financial benefits, “[…]with 43% saying this would motivate them to subscribe, moving up to 55% in the under 30 age bracket, removing the pain-point of car ownership.”

There are also collaborations between government bodies. Transport for London and Transport for West Midlands are looking to share best practice from the potential impacts of major transport projects to MaaS and improving open data.

The recognition that data plays a critical role in sustainable transportation was evident at a Cities Today roundtable where Lilli Matson of Transport for London outlined the need for better use of local government data and to improve negotiation skills with ‘data-rich private firms’.

BERLIN

Data insights are at the core of Volkswagen Group’s latest venture MOIA, which aims to re-engineer urban mobility. Headquartered in Berlin, it offers on-demand ‘ride-hailing and pooling services’, invests in digital start-ups and collaborates with cities and transport providers.

Analysing data to understand mobility patterns is key to driving MaaS. Berlin insurance and car rental company ADAC aims to uncover gaps in existing transportation. Together with Door2Door (D2D), it is piloting a shuttle service, AllygatorShuttle, to meet the ‘last mile’ frustrations of Berlin residents. Using the D2D platform, rides are pooled using algorithms to assign the best routes to destinations.  

These projects are amongst several in the city. Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) and ViaVan is the result of a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via. A two-year on-demand ridesharing project with user configurable routes, it uses virtual stops, algorithmic route planning and offers vehicles with disability access

Inclusivity is another important factor for MaaS. Berlin-Brandenburg public transport authority VBB launched an application to entice younger travellers onto public transport. Based on the HaCon Kids App, VBB jump is pitched as ‘a first step towards safer travel for kids’. It aims to make travel easier and to alert predefined contacts, via call or text message along with GPS location data, if a child needs help.

ROME

With Rome looking to cut CO2 emissions by 40%, mobility is one option to help meet this target. And it looks to be taking a collaborative approach too.

After a four-month consultation phase, more than 1,600 citizens signed up to participate in the urban mobility plans for Rome. Rome’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) says that trust-building is central to strategic policy planning. The article identified public and private transport, urban logistics, cycle networks, green zones, road safety, disabled access and innovative data technologies as areas of focus for the city.

Currently shared transport appears to be doing well. According to shared mobility app, Urbi, there are 5,741 car shares daily in the capital and urban mobility observatory, Elitis, says shared transport usage in Italy as a whole grew by 50% during 2015-17. Of the 7,679 car sharing vehicles it identified, 24% were in Rome. Two-wheeled shared mobility is also on the rise with Mobike, Ofo and Obike, being introduced to Rome, amongst other cities. The first shared electric scooter services launched in Rome (and Milan) in 2017.

Platforms that bring multi-modal trip planning across Europe together will make for a more seamless experience, covering everything from booking and payment to parking and accessibility.

As a seasoned MaaS player, SkedGo is driving integration across major European cities to help governments and businesses provide a seamless end-to-end urban mobility experience through its API and white label solutions.

Meet us at the ITS World Congress in Copenhagen September 17 to 21 or contact us here.

Image courtesy of Life of Pix
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