MaaS Scotland is a new organisation dedicated to supporting the growth of Mobility as a Service. Kate Armitage explains how this exciting new technology will revolutionise travel – and help organisations tackle tough challenges around grey fleet
In the transport sector, at times it feels like we are awash with buzz words and phrases. But if you only remember one new phrase from 2017, make sure it is this: “Mobility as a Service”. Also known as “MaaS”, this is going to transform how we travel, helping us to save money, improve road safety and reduce harmful emissions along the way.
So what is MaaS? James Datson, MaaS Lead for Transport Systems Catapult, defines it as “using a digital interface to source and manage the provision of transport-related services, which meet the mobility requirements of a customer”.
Traditional car ownership models are losing appeal; we see MaaS as a revolutionary technology that uses smart phones to bring together all available means of travel, via various transport providers, along with smart ticketing and digital payments. By combining providers, payment and tickets in one single application, we can make using different modes of travel much easier and more attractive.
Through MaaS, we can offer users instant access to all available public and private transport in their area, ranging from trains, trams and buses, to bike hire, car rental, and taxis.
In this way, our smart phones will become the technology of choice when it comes to planning a journey, paying for travel, and storing our tickets. Furthermore, the best apps will offer users a choice of key metrics, such as whether they want to make the most low carbon journey possible, or the cheapest, or the quickest.
There are several reasons why Mobility as a Service is important for fleet organisations. Firstly, more integrated transport makes it easier for potential employees to commute to your premises, thereby widening the available talent pool when it comes to recruitment. Secondly, as traditional car ownership declines it will reduce the overall number of vehicles on our roads, helping the UK to hit stringent targets for air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
But there is also a big benefit for tackling grey fleet. Employees using their own cars for business purposes is a hot topic for almost all organisations. With mileage reimbursed at 45 pence per mile, grey fleet is expensive and frequently grey fleet vehicles are older causing a much bigger CO2 impact compared to newer vehicles. There is also the temptation for employees to exaggerate their mileage claims – a recent survey published found that 36 per cent of drivers over-claimed on their mileage. Grey fleet use can also be high-risk, as organisations typically do not carry out the same level of risk management for employee-owned vehicles as they do for company-owned assets.
Energy Saving Trust estimates that there are about four million grey fleet cars operating in the UK – more than three times the number of company cars. So this is a huge area in which MaaS can make a really positive impact.
The increasing availability of MaaS apps will help organisations to reduce employee reliance on their own vehicles. We see it as enabling a cultural shift, as it will empower people to ditch the car when on company business. MaaS will make it so easy to travel via other means, that employees will eagerly embrace it.
There are several ways in which organisations can promote MaaS (for example car clubs, taxi splitting and on demand buses) with many benefits, such as reducing emissions, improving road safety, saving money, and speeding up expenses claims. This can feed into corporate social responsibility objectives, as well as supporting an employer’s legal liabilities around duty of care.
Route Monkey has been involved in developing and testing MaaS applications for several years, using our optimisation algorithms to do the heavy lifting when it comes to collating travel options. Examples include the MyRouteMonkey EV journey planner (my.routemonkey.com), which takes the stress and strain out of planning long journeys in an electric vehicle.
Working as part of a consortium led by ESP Group, we also helped develop Navigogo. Scotland’s first MaaS web application, this will be piloted in Dundee and Fife this autumn with 16-25 year‑olds.
Further afield, Route Monkey has created a multi-modal journey planner for Bristol, as part of the REPLICATE project, which stands for REnaissance of PLaces with Innovative Citizenship And Technologies. Funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, it aims to develop intelligent mobility solutions that can be rolled out to other cities.
MaaS Scotland is a partnership between two trade associations – Technology Scotland and ScotlandIS. These organisations recognised that Scotland has the transport infrastructure, fleets and technology companies to make it an ideal breeding ground for new Mobility as a Service applications.
Officially launched in September, MaaS Scotland’s fast-growing membership includes well-known companies such as Arnold Clark, Nexus, and the Stagecoach Group, along with intelligent mobility specialists such as Route Monkey, Urban Foresight, and Viaqqio, which is part of the ESP Group.
MaaS Scotland’s goal is to deliver new and alternative ways for people in Scotland to travel, whether they are based in big cities or rural areas. By working with such a wide range of companies and organisations, it can create new public/private partnerships to develop pilot projects, turning Scotland into a leader in MaaS technologies. This will deliver huge benefits for people living and working in Scotland. However, it will also create fantastic opportunities for companies to create, refine and ultimately export MaaS applications to the rest of the world.
MaaS Scotland presents a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve when it comes to this exciting new technology. If you are an organisation that is based in Scotland, or has employees located there, you could be eligible to join MaaS Scotland. Membership rates are competitively priced, starting from £250 per annum for businesses with 10 or fewer employees.
MaaS Scotland also holds regular events where you can find out much more about the potential benefits of mobility as a service and how membership could benefit your organisation.