ITS-UK warns Parliamentary inquiry that MaaS is not a ‘magic bullet’


ITS-UK’s Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) Interest Group has told the House of Commons Transport Committee that the MaaS concept is still in its infancy and it is not an instant solution to the country’s transportation problems.

Responding to the Transport Select Committee’s MaaS inquiry, ITS-UK agreed that there is significant global and UK interest in the concept, but unless it is implemented properly, it could actually risk moving people from public transport to on-demand cars. The MaaS Interest Group, led by representatives from Jacobs, Cubic and AECOM, said that while there are not enough use-cases yet to analyze potential effectiveness, several UK and European pilot projects should start providing evidence in the near future.

The Parliamentary inquiry focused on potential barriers to delivering MaaS and the ITS-UK team’s response sought to manage their expectations. The Interest Group stated, “A MaaS app on its own is not a magic bullet. It must offer access to high-quality, reliable services, in order to get people to use it. There are no existing examples of a high-quality ticketing system used by a poor-quality transport provider leading to increased ridership.”

When responding to questions about barriers to implementation, the group pointed to issues with local authority resources, real-time information and private sector motivation. They also pointed to the need for effective government advice and regulation if a nationwide system is to be delivered, and that modelling has shown that using MaaS solutions actually costs more if a customer still has a private car.

Concerns over social exclusion were also discussed. However, the group pointed to the undoubted opportunities of positioning the UK as a global leader in the delivery of MaaS systems, which represents a very significant change in how transport users access services.

“What’s clear from our work is that MaaS can have positive or negative effects,” explained ITS-UK’s MaaS Interest Group chairman Andrew Pearce (right). “The scale and direction of the benefits is down to participation: it’s a team sport where specific contributions are needed from private sector, local and central government. If one party takes over, it will fail or be distorted with unwanted effects for the network.”

ITS-UK’s secretary general, Jennie Martin, commented, “Once again, thanks to our wide variety of members and their complementary knowledge and skills, ITS-UK has been able to respond to a government request with an informed, focused set of comments, which will help ministers and officials make the right choices to deliver another exciting transport technology innovation.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).