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MaaS: the Quiet Revolution in Transport (Part 2)

This is the second part of our two-part series looking at the trends and events that are shaping the future of transport. In the last article, we looked at the global push by governments for sustainable transport and the rise of alternative transport modes. This time we turn our attention to how the pent-up demand from Covid-19, the move towards more active travel and the digitisation of our transport systems, are all creating an increasing need for MaaS.

Pent up demand from Covid-19

The pandemic changed consumer behaviour and spending patterns. More people worked from home and public transport use fell sharply particularly at peak commuting times. With lockdowns everywhere, even private vehicle usage dropped too. People stopped travelling into the office and could not go about their daily life as usual. 

JP Morgan reports that consumers in the U.S. may have accumulated an estimated $1.5 trillion in excess savings during the past year. While home parcel and food shopping delivery increased dramatically, consumers ultimately haven’t been able to spend on holidays, entertainment or other leisure activities. However, there are signs that people are keen to travel again in this ‘new normal’.

A report from The Travel Technology Association shows there is growing enthusiasm for travel post-Covid with 82% of U.S. families making travel plans for this year. However, it also states that Covid has changed consumer behaviour and will likely affect how, when and where people travel. This includes longer distance travel, but probably also shorter trips which feel safer, within the region they live in.

Consumers naturally want to protect their health and that of their families, so there will be an expectation that any vehicles used are regularly cleaned, and that safety precautions are being taken seriously. MaaS applications can provide the ability to share precisely this kind of real-time data, which travellers can access from their mobile devices, helping them to make more informed travel choices.

The drive for active travel

Alongside the growing interest in shared mobility (as mentioned in part 1 of this series) is the rising enthusiasm for active travel – from both government and consumers alike. Many cities across the globe, such as London, Paris, Berlin and Milan repurposed their streets to make way for cycle lanes in response to the pandemic. In the summer of 2020, the UK government announced further investment in cycling and walking beyond 2021, with £2bn of additional funding for active travel. In Europe, Ireland’s National Transport Authority announced €72.8m in active travel funding for rural areas. This is in addition to the €240m for Dublin, the GDA and regional cities that it announced in February 2021.

Cycling helps governments move more people around cities, such as London, on a fraction of the road space. It also supports policies to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality, alongside the benefits to general health and wellbeing. As Covid-19 restrictions impacted the day-to-day lives of citizens, we saw them turn to cycling and walking as viable mobility alternatives. (source: Department of Transport). 

At the beginning of 2021, retailers reported they couldn’t keep up with demand for bikes and accessories with UK sales up by 41% in January compared to the previous year (source: The Guardian). According to Research and Markets, the global market for cycles is expected to reach US$82.3bn by 2027. The trend in cycling isn’t abating and we’re seeing an increase in the popularity of e-bikes too.

The integration of active travel within MaaS apps (such as TripGo) – providing details such as bike-friendly routes and the ability to combine cycling with other modes of transport – allows consumers to use it as alternative or supplement to get where they’re going.

Digitisation of mobility

We’ve all become increasingly reliant on technology in transport and travel over the years, from simple GPS satnavs and travel planning apps to purchasing tickets electronically, requesting platform assistance and identity verification via mobile device. The digitalisation of mobility provides convenience and is essential to make travel seamless, safe and efficient – a sentiment echoed in the European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

MaaS is a critical part of the picture thanks to its ability to aggregate nearly every aspect of travel into a single application. This means consumers can plan journeys in a matter of seconds, combining multiple transport modes with consideration for personal preferences such as route, cost, comfort, efficiency or CO2 emissions. Acting as a ‘one-stop shop’, MaaS offers real-time trip updates, the ability to change transport mode mid-journey, book and pay for tickets in-app without the need to carry cash. Consumers can easily see all modes available to them from a growing, diverse range of transport options. From intelligent routing algorithms to the ability for the conscious consumer to track the carbon impact of journeys, MaaS supports increasingly personalised travel options. Equally, it can disseminate important information and updates, and digitalise the whole payment and verification process when hiring, for example, an e-bike or e-car.

As Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport, points out, “digital technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way we move, making our mobility smarter, more efficient, and also greener.” MaaS plays an important part in this revolution. It provides the fundamental answer to how consumers can easily access the growing transport options available to them, encourages the use of greener, more active forms of travel, supporting the health and safety of citizens.

For cities and transport providers, MaaS offers an opportunity to understand transport usage and to tap into trends that help to shape resources, policy and initiatives that benefit regions, business and the environment as well as helping people to move around easily and safely. Given global MaaS market capitalisation is expected to reach US$9.5tn by 2035 (source: Statistica) there appears to be a great deal of upside potential for this ‘quiet’ movement in transport. Maybe now could be the right time to invest in MaaS technology? 

SkedGo provides the technology and intelligent algorithms to power MaaS applications. If you’d like to discuss your MaaS project, we’d love to hear from you. We’d also be interested to hear from potential investors. Please feel free to get in touch.

Title image by Charlotte May from Pexels