Experts urge UK government to mandate open data in transportation for MaaS

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Four leading international experts on Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concepts and deployments have told the UK government that they should consider following the Finnish example, where a new law obligates transportation providers to share data.

The four experts, participating in a public inquiry held by the House of Commons Transport Committee at the UK parliament in Westminster, London, were: Piia Karjalainen, senior manager at the MaaS Alliance international organization; Paul Campion, CEO of the UK’s Transport Systems Catapult (TSC); Simon Ho chairman of the TravelSpirit Foundation; and Dr Maria Kamargianni, head of MaaSLab at the University College London (UCL) Energy Institute.

During the meeting, the four experts answered questions from members of parliament about the use, benefits, risks and implementation of MaaS, highlighting the next steps that need to be undertaken to further develop the new transport services. Based on the evidence provided, the committee will publish its recommendations for a national Mobility as a Service policy for consideration by the UK Department for Transport (DfT).

MaaS can provide the integration of different transport services into a single mobility service, accessible on demand. The three key factors that set MaaS apart from other transport offerings are:

• A unique service that includes a multitude of transport modes on demand;

• The implementation of a single payment for all travel needs through a digital platform.

• Real-time information, so that the user can always be informed about various aspects of the trip, including delays, disruptions and travel times.

The discussion proceeded with a series of questions and answers about the benefits of MaaS, the risks of introducing this new integrated transport service, and the obstacles that MaaS systems are facing in their implementation.

“Maas creates a real added-value compared to existing services and products,” commented Karjalainen. “This means creating a really attractive alternative to the use and ownership of private cars. Thanks to digitization, we have, for the first time, the impression of what users really need, and therefore MaaS is developing, based on the demand we have.”

All four experts shared a common view regarding the role of governments in the implementation of MaaS systems. Citing the Finnish example, where the government recently adopted a law that obligates transport providers to share data, Karjalainen said, “An open data policy is a really good starting point for regulation if you would like to promote a MaaS environment. A central role is played by data policy. Giving open access to data, and making sure that there’s access to the market for several transport service operators, can provide the chance to integrate and have new mobility services.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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