MaaS Use Cases #1: Accessibility

Mention mobility as a service (MaaS) and what springs to mind? Many people think of it as a journey planning, management and payment tool. A MaaS app makes it easy to find the best route based on personal preferences, purchase tickets for an entire journey, get notified of changes and generally help people move from A to B.

The reality is, MaaS does all of this – and much more. We’re only starting to scratch the surface in terms of its capabilities not only for individuals but also governments, corporates, public transit authorities, transport operators, startups and membership organisations. And then there are also the opportunities for other stakeholders, like the tourism industry, events organisers, not-for-profits and retailers.

With this in mind, we will explore some of the many MaaS use cases that can help cities and corporations increase revenues, unlock business potential, progress toward policy targets, support communities and bring a whole new level of opportunity to improve our transport systems and the way we live, work and travel. So let’s dive right in, here’s part 1! 

Making travel easier for people with mental health considerations and reduced mobility

Living with a disability often makes travel difficult and navigating the transport system can be a nightmare. Whether a person uses a wheelchair, has a sight/hearing impairment or a medical condition, MaaS can support them – and the charities and not-for-profits that serve this community. 

Alongside trip details, MaaS allows people to pay for their whole journey so they don’t have to queue for a ticket or have change for a bus fare. It can provide details of lifts out of order, where operational toilets are located and whether there are ramps rather than steps to access the platform, stop or rank. 

The accessibility of transport can also be communicated with journey search results taking this into account including which carriages or coaches provide wheelchair access. It’s also possible to see which locations have wheelchairs available – with the ability to book in-app – and the pickup points where they can be digitally checked in or out.  

Requesting assistance directly from within a MaaS app can alert transport providers ahead of time of a person’s requirements. Knowing accessibility services are in place and that transport employees are aware of their arrival – and any special considerations – means one less issue for passengers to worry about. It also gives employees the confidence to provide a smoother journey experience. 

MaaS can also support people with conditions such as ADHD or autism. Occupancy details, which SkedGo announced in response to the coronavirus pandemic (along with government COVID-19 alerts), shows which carriages or coaches have fewer people in them. When stations or vehicles have last been cleaned can also help passengers feel more at ease when travelling on public or shared transport. 

On a final note, it’s important to think about accessibility from a wider perspective. People with temporary mobility issues such as a bad back, broken leg or sight problems; parents with pushchairs or shopping, the elderly or even the general public with large shopping bags or luggage, need to know they can navigate transport systems with ease. 

“SkedGo’s occupancy feature and COVID-19 alerts use open source data from operators to present real-time information on carriage crowdedness, arrival times and service information, such as alternative boarding procedures for trains, buses, trams or ferries. In the future, we will be able to use data to prioritise routes that involve reduced human contact or time in transit. Information on cleaning schedules could also be introduced.”

John Nuutinen, SkedGo CEO @JohnNuutinen 

Accessible MaaS in practice

Australia’s Transport for NSW (TfNSW) open data strategy allowed SkedGo to include wheelchair-friendly routing and to notify passengers which parts of the platform provide emptier carriages. Using this data via the SkedGo platform collaborative research centre AutismCRC then created an app to help people on the Autistic spectrum be more comfortable using public transport. 

Equally, Neatebox by founder Gavin Neate is an interesting solution with MaaS potential. It supports people with accessibility requirements, allowing them to communicate with customer services and offers contactless touch with Button to open doors and use pedestrian crossings. It lets venue staff know when their customer will arrive, any specific requirements on arrival and an overview of the person’s condition as well as tips to aid interaction.

‘Powerchairs’ at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport will relay real-time gate and boarding updates to its user (THIIS). The company, a result of the WHILL and Scootaround merger, also focuses on creating a seamless experience for people with limited mobility at, for example, large venues and theme parks as well as last-mile transport needs, providing freedom from travel constraints.

“With our technology, we can already provide wheelchair friendly routing and re-routing (e.g. for lift outages), we can allow users to set different walking speeds (important for trip chains with more than one leg) and we can display crowdedness in carriages and busses. All providing we get the right data of course. Hopefully with more data becoming available from providers, we will be able to further extend our accessible routing features.”

Sandra Witzel, SkedGo Head of Marketing @sandrawitzel

Who does accessible MaaS help

  • People with disabilities, reduced mobility and mental health conditions
  • Parents with pushchairs, prams and/or young children
  • The elderly
  • Individuals with temporary mobility issues
  • People with heavy luggage or shopping bags
  • Public transit authorities (PTAs)
  • Transport operators with wheelchair and other accessibility facilities
  • Charities and support organisations (including fundraisers/campaigners)
  • Retail consortiums, retail parks, and shopping malls
  • Events and large venues including conference centres, theme parks etc

Questions to ask 

  • What accessibility issues arise time and time again?
  • How can accessibility and communication tools help customers enjoy a smoother door-to-destination experience?
  • Where can you improve accessibility for visitors when visiting your venue or event to remove barriers and frustration?
  • Have you made sure to consider a variety of accessibility requirements, have you consulted with disability groups and stakeholders?
  • How will your organisation benefit from offering better accessibility – and communication of those facilities – both now and in the future? 
  • How can technology such as MaaS support customers and passengers with accessibility requirements – and also staff so they’re better prepared to provide the assistance needed?

Answering questions like these will help you figure out how you can best meet the needs of citizens with physical and mental health considerations. If you are planning a MaaS project, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss how SkedGo could help you serve your passengers and travellers better.

Photo courtesy of Marcus Aurelius from Pexels