Atkins, a leading multidisciplinary consultancy, is to lead a project in Greater Manchester in the UK that will see it become one of the first regions in the UK to research and develop a business model around the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) concept.
As part of Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) vision to make travel easier for all residents, the project will use smart technology to study how people could, in the future, plan and pay for their door-to-door journey using trams, buses, bike hire or ridesharing in one single transaction.
Projected benefits to the region of a MaaS system include a better travel experience for users, as well as fewer cars on some of the region’s busiest roads, potentially leading to less congestion and air pollution.
Responding to trends that find fewer people using cars, especially in Manchester city center, the research project aims to encourage take-up of public transport by finding ways of personalizing the experience for end users. This could mean offering customers bespoke information on travel choices, including accessible and most affordable options, and radically simplifying how to pay for it.
The research project will be sponsored by TfGM and delivered by Atkins, which will work closely with the region’s public transport operators and travel providers, commuters, residents and local businesses. Its first phase includes mapping current travel behavior to ensure that any new MaaS service reflects local needs.
“This MaaS research project has the potential to further transform how people get about this region and make our roads far less congested and polluting. It’s all about choice,” noted Rafael Cuesta, head of innovation for TfGM. “We’re looking at how to provide people, including those who can’t afford to run a car, with information about the full range of travel options for their journey so they can make up their own minds. This research project focuses on ways of persuading people to consider alternative forms of public transport, with the potential to significantly impact on emissions and congestion.”
Nathan Marsh, Atkins’ director of intelligent mobility for the UK and Europe, added, “We are thrilled to be getting involved in a MaaS project that has the potential to be transformative for the region. Our previous studies have found that people are prepared to consider using more public transport; it’s all about finding ways of making it as seamless, affordable and accessible as possible.”