What does Mobility as a Service (MaaS) mean in a customer-centric society?

With growing congestion and seemingly constant disruption in our cities and on our roads and public transport, we need to find a way to address the lack of capacity in our infrastructure network. As population growth places mounting pressure on already strained services, we need to look to the future and how we can use new technologies to improve the experience for everyone who relies on the UK’s transport infrastructure to get around.

Mobility as a Service

Putting the customer first

First and foremost, we must understand and enhance the user experience. We need to use data to look at how customers use and interchange with different modes of transport – from cars and buses, to cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. We can then optimise the design and operation of roads, systems and services for the benefit of all. 

Why does the transport sector need to continue to innovate?

1. Enabling economic growth

Sustainable and connected transport options are key to generating community prosperity, helping to open-up new areas for development. Where congestion is a barrier to growth; improved transport options can generate economic growth through local and regional job creation and by providing easier access to skills and housing. 

2. Improving quality of life

Mobility is also a key part of making areas liveable. Rather than building high-density housing in already over-populated towns and cities, travel can open areas for development where people can enjoy smooth and quick commutes to and from the centre, and live in an area without the health and social issues that can be associated with high-density living.  Transportation plays a vital role in health, wellbeing, sustainability, therefore, improving quality of life. 

3. Enhancing the user experience

In all walks of life there is an increasing focus on the customer and their experience, and mobility is no exception. People are choosing more flexible ways to work and live; today’s customers are becoming more discerning, demanding a higher-quality experience. 

How can we respond to these challenges? 

As we start to see early stage MaaS pilots mature into commercial MaaS services, we have seen through our own work in the Netherlands over the past ten years the potential for MaaS type solutions to enable behavioural change. This can help to alleviate peak hour highway congestion and reduce the negative impacts on customer experience and economic growth that may result from the construction phase of major transport upgrade programmes. 

In addressing the challenges we face in the UK, we can look to insights from these three examples: 

1. Spitsmijden: This refers to a series of 16 projects designed to reduce congestion on peak periods on highways by incentivising behavioural change. It uses data to target regular peak hour travellers and then creates unique packages to reward them for making different travel choices – travelling at a different time, using a different mode of transport or not travelling at all. The scheme has resulted in 12.5% drop in traffic during peak hours– equivalent to the reduction in traffic typically seen during school holidays. 

2. Minder Hinder: Meaning “reducing nuisance”, this reduces the impact of journey time delays due to major highway construction works and, in doing so, can ease frustration and improve the customer experience. 

Minder Hinder is a user-focused, integrated package of interventions such as smart planning and construction, clear signage, customer communication and mobility management (including Spitsmijden). The approach is now mandatory on all highways projects in the Netherlands which are likely to disrupt customer experience. Even with the additional cost of the interventions, it has proved its worth over a decade when improvements in customer experience and traffic delays are fully factored in, achieving customer satisfaction scores of 80%.

3. Mobility as a Service (MaaS): A joint agreement between large employers based in Amsterdam’s Business District (Zuidas) will see the creation of a commercial MaaS solution to ensure their employees can continue to travel to and from work through a 10-year period of major transport infrastructure development. 

In advance of having a full MaaS solution up and running, we are conducting several pilot studies to inform the design of the eventual MaaS scheme. We are challenging individuals to give up their vehicles in return for a credit to use alternative methods of transport and using gamification, whereby points were awarded for use of different modes with prizes. Half of the participants in the pilot studies confirmed that they would give up their company vehicle in favour of a scheme like this. The pilot studies give confidence that permanent behavioural change is achievable given the right level of service, at the right price. 

How do we move forward to ensure the industry evolves?

These three examples are all technology enabled, data-driven, behavioural change programmes, and demonstrate that it is possible to find creative solutions to capacity constraints on our transport infrastructure using MaaS. 

We need to continue to push the boundaries, implement, experiment and learn, building on the knowledge we now have – through data and technology – to create bespoke user experiences that lead to long term behavioural change and societal benefit. 

If we do this, it will lead to a more prosperous economic model for the industry and society, improve the quality of life in our communities and, ultimately, transform the way people move around and interact in our cites.

Lieke Arts, Arcadis’ Program Manager for Big Urban Clients in Europe, is speaking at the MaaS conference on 26 June

Tim Strong

Transport Innovation Director Ask me a question
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