Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is a phrase used to describes the shift away from personally-owned modes of transportation towards an integrated range of mobility solutions that are consumed as a service. MaaS platforms typically provide people with the ability to plan, book and pay for their journeys using a variety of modes, via a smartphone app. The BVRLA has issued a series of recommendations to the Government for how best to take MaaS forwards.
The advent of bike and car sharing, ride hailing, on-demand buses and other mobility models means that urban policymakers need to think again about how they classify transport, particularly what they class as private or public transport.
Cities around the UK need more central policy support to help them understand and deal with new and disruptive forms of mobility. With a more consistent and strategic approach, local authorities can work with central government to create a distinct vision for MaaS that seems them taking a leading. If they do not take a leading role, there is a risk that a large mobility service provider will be able to implement its own business model on top of them.
Government should try to ensure that there is a level playing field between different mobility business models in terms of tax, regulation and consumer transparency.
There is a very real danger that unregulated growth of integrated mobility platform providers could deliver a huge market advantage to certain dominant operators. This data asymmetry could potentially lead to a large technology or transportation platform gaining a near monopoly over other providers, leading to an actual reduction in public transport use. It could lead to an uncontrolled growth of a particular business model, causing an increase in congestion or pollution.
Most taxes are based on the physical location of a service provider, but the emergence of a new breed of digital and shared services makes this approach increasingly obsolete.
Similarly, many new technology-based platforms are essentially run by ‘algorithmic management’ which can present major challenges in terms of navigating platform policies which are often poorly communicated and just a software update away. They can also reduce the ability for platform participants to manage customer complaints.
Wherever possible, policymakers should try and ensure that rules and regulations around urban infrastructure are as standardised as possible. This should include everything from signage and road markings to the technology used for sharing information between vehicles and infrastructure such as parking spaces or traffic lights. Interoperability is particularly important, with technology used to share data (e.g. on parking, congestion, traffic lighting, etc.) being identical across the UK. The BVRLA believes that a UK-solution is required in setting and implementing data standards, rather than a city-by-city approach.