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"MaaS - the future" by Jenny Milne, PhD researcher and MaaS Scotland: Aberdeen meeting of Tuesday 17 September 2019

Jenny Milned

Jenny Milne

© Jenny Milne 2014

A panel discussion led by Jenny Milne in Aberdeen on 17 September revealed that Technology Scotland is coordinating 75 public and private sector organisations to develop Mobility as a Service, an emerging concept for the consumption of transport in which the likes of Smartcards and Demand Responsive Transport are individual aspects.

Mobility as a Service seeks to offer:

- presentation of all modes including carshare and bikeshare through a single path so as to aid the most informed choice having regard to the time of day and the day of the week;
- the opportunity to book a multiple-stage journey, making payment in an account-based system rather than having to fork out physical cash;
- journey management so as not to leave the traveller in the lurch as a result of congestion, cancellations, the weather or the environment; and
- inclusion of personal preferences, e.g. as to active travel.

The new Mobility as a Service investment fund is seeking to raise the profile of MaaS by showing how projects can be more effectively delivered while providing firm evidence to back what at present is no more than an intuitive feeling about the benefits to be had.

MaaS works by bringing specialisms out of their silos, with data-sharing and other cross-collaboration between different workstreams. For main freight corridors there is real-time journey planning for strategic freight. The Civitas Portis project across five European cities and one in China is looking at improved governance so as to encourage better journey-planning, with the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route acting as a real game-changer since by exporting through traffic it frees up roadspace in the city for walking, cycling and buses. NE Scotland is noted for its high car-dependency, but people can be persuaded out of cars if we offer positive alternatives with lifestyle choices (e.g. using public transport allows one to have a drink) and where necessary price-signals as a deterrent.

A smart travel tool can present travel options promoting awareness of such factors as parking charges. Economic development may be supported if travel opportunities can be identified for commuters, visitors and for job-creation. The impact of bus service-cuts in constraining work-choices can be highlighted, as can that of Brexit on exports such as whitefish.

Transport must be linked with digital connectivity in order to promote the flow of ideas as well as of goods and people. Improved broadband can bind together strategic locations, and digital communication can also facilitate traffic management through improved use of sensors.

MaaS requires collaboration in the sharing of data which makes NE Scotland with its traditions of civic cooperation and relatively simple geography an emerging test-bed. In the present circumstances of budget cuts, such promotion of collaborative working can make service provision more cost-effective as agencies are enabled to align their budgets, overcoming traditional hurdles between capital and revenue support in the creation of common opportunity.

MaaS can create a more informed and personalised choice to influence travel behaviour. Incentives may be built in to offer a reward e.g. a discounted coffee or a monetary credit for good behaviours such as travelling offpeak or waiting until a blockage has cleared. The choice can reflect individual preferences as to say active travel or computer literacy, and as well as options for taking the user to the service the alternative can be built in of taking the service to the user. The flexibility that MaaS can provide fits well with modern telematics, including hot-desking that may require a worker to stagger the journey into work, with operating from home a preference for certain times of day or days of the week. What there must be is the will to work together, sharing data and aligning budgets, and the forthcoming demonstration projects will show how these can deliver greater economy and efficiency.

Report by John Yellowlees.


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