ITS UK has held its first forum on the topic of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) in London, simultaneously launching a new interest group dedicated to studying the subject.
Originally conceived and developed by Sampo Hietanen, the former executive director of ITS Finland, MaaS is the integration of various forms of transport systems into a single mobility service that is accessible on demand. The UK’s not-for-profit public/private sector association had previously identified MaaS as a key deliverable of ITS technologies, and although many of the concept’s constituent parts, such as connected vehicles, local authorities, road user charging and public transport, are covered by the organization’s other working groups, it was clear that there is now a demand for specific meetings to discuss and develop MaaS in the country.
The initial meeting heard from a variety of speakers representing, among others, the Jacobs infrastructure consultancy, TravelSpirit, Newcastle University, the government-backed Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) and Ito World, as well as hosts Cubic Transportation systems (CTS). The meeting heard how MaaS is part of the shift “from the ‘culture of me’, to the ‘culture of we’,” to build seamless demand-based travel. As well as the technology to deliver MaaS, delivery variations between urban and rural areas were discussed, while Professor Margaret Bell of Newcastle University suggested MaaS could be used to manage transport demand to reach climate change targets.
The group also considered the contribution of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) to MaaS, and the role of local and central government in the whole mobility ecosystem. The ITS UK MaaS Interest Group is expected to meet regularly throughout the year, rotating locations between major cities, and to mail key updates in this fast-moving sector to all members. Earlier this year, the West Midlands became the first region in the UK to pilot a MaaS system for its residents. The pioneering service was launched using the Whim smartphone application developed by MaaS Global.
Founding chairman of the working group, Andrew Pearce of Jacobs, said, “We have pulled this group together due to overwhelming interest from sectors spanning software to financial services, with key transport and technology players in between. The potential to enable modal shift, and reduce pollution and congestion by providing a more convenient alternative to car trips, is really grabbing the industry’s imagination and the global projected market of over US$2tr underlines just what a key topic this is to get right.”