Dr. George Hazel
© John Yellowlees, 2017
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) as a concept has emerged over the last few years and is now being developed around the world. Global trends such as a desire for personalization and smart technology have transformed the transport and mobility market from an operational to a service model of delivery.
Future mobility services will need to be user focused, seamless and valued by the customer. Scotland has expertise and experience in key areas and a supportive Government infrastructure, and is the right size to offer companies the ability to trial MaaS products at a suitable scale before going global.
In his presentation, Dr. Hazel pointed out that transport provision has traditionally been top-down, but an analysis of world cities suggests that what people now want is a service that is user-focused, seamless and offers real value.
An understanding of customers driven by personalisation and lifestyles in a shared economy where people will increasingly prefer sharing a vehicle to owning one points to a bottom-up approach in which companies like Ford are evolving from building cars to becoming a person-mover.
With Uber offering a taxi service but not owning any taxis, Airb&b likewise for tourist accommodation and parallel developments like Trivago and Skyscanner - one energy company is even offering white goods free to customers who sign up for its supplies - Mobility As a Service is a hassle-free and environmentally-friendly alternative to private car ownership that aims to find, design in and capture the value to its customers who, relying on its app to summon a taxi or autonomous vehicle when required, would no longer need car parks, thus releasing these for alternative uses and enabling fewer vehicles to deliver more mileage.
Reliable internet connectivity would be needed for it to work in urban and rural areas, and there would be a clear threat to local buses: but both Stagecoach and First Group have joined the likes of Oracle, Mott, Systra and Peter Brett Associates among nearly thirty companies supporting the MAaS Scottish Alliance. A trial is now needed to identify who are to be the aggregators, integrators and suppliers, and an island such as Arran would offer an interesting possibility, while a rural area like the Cairngorms would test connectivity.
Issues that could emerge would include what is the role of the public sector, social and environmental targets, provision for low-income users and identifying who are the buyers. Suggestions to get things off the ground include airport car park operators hiring out cars while the owner is on holiday, and employers hiring out cars parked up by their staff during the day.
Report and photograph of George Hazel by John Yellowlees.
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