Covid-19 and its implications for MaaS

May 4, 2021
3 min
Die Corona-Pandemie hat sich auf fast alle Bereiche des öffentlichen und privaten Lebens ausgewirkt. Auch mit Blick auf die Mobilität hat die Krise für noch nie da gewesene Verhältnisse gesorgt und Entwicklungen beschleunigt, die sich sonst wahrscheinlich erst in einigen Jahren realisiert hätten. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) kann eine Lösung für Mobilitätsanbieter sein, um mit den Folgen der Pandemie umzugehen.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted almost all areas of public and private life. With regard to mobility, the crisis has created a situation without precedent and accelerated developments that may otherwise have taken a number of years to materialise. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is one solution available to mobility providers seeking to address the impacts of the pandemic.

The new normal of home office and mobility

This change is most vis­i­ble in the way that work­ing from home has estab­lished itself as a gen­uine alter­na­tive to the nor­mal work­place. Although com­pa­nies and organ­i­sa­tions could have made this tech­ni­cal­ly pos­si­ble years ago through the intro­duc­tion of the “dig­i­tal work­place”, it is the present health cri­sis that has made home office a main­stream fea­ture of the pro­fes­sion­al world. Its essen­tial fea­ture is that it makes work more flex­i­ble. Work­ing hours and the place of work are no longer nec­es­sar­i­ly fixed. As well as cre­at­ing new free­doms, this brings a need for greater flex­i­bil­i­ty in oth­er areas, includ­ing mobility.

Besides the home office trend, the pan­dem­ic itself is alter­ing the para­me­ters of mobil­i­ty. Lock­downs, cur­fews, a restrict­ed trav­el radius and social dis­tanc­ing rules are severe­ly cur­tail­ing people’s mobil­i­ty. At the same time, more and more Ger­mans are opt­ing for bicy­cles, their own cars or walk­ing, as a study by For­sashows. Shar­ing mod­els are also gain­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty. Pub­lic trans­port, on the oth­er hand, is suf­fer­ing the most in the present sit­u­a­tion. Dis­tanc­ing rules and the elim­i­na­tion of com­mutes to work are dri­ving the trend of few­er pas­sen­gers. In light of this, the man­age­ment con­sul­tan­cy Deloitte describes the pan­dem­ic as caus­ing a shift in mobil­i­ty “from pub­lic to pri­vate”.

Lasting trends

At the same time, it is evi­dent that indi­vid­ual pref­er­ences stem from habits that were already in place before the pan­dem­ic. Dri­vers who own a pri­vate vehi­cle tend to use it more. Con­verse­ly, those who were rely­ing on pub­lic trans­port now make more jour­neys on foot, by bicy­cle or using shar­ing vehi­cles – or by com­bin­ing mul­ti­ple modes of trans­port, as McK­in­sey points out.

Over a year into the cri­sis, it is becom­ing clear that this devel­op­ment is not a short-term trend. The Asso­ci­a­tion of Ger­man Trans­port Com­pa­nies (VDV) notes that pub­lic trans­port use was far below pre-cri­sis lev­els even while restric­tions were relaxed in the sum­mer of 2020. A sur­vey by For­sa on behalf of the Ger­man Ener­gy Agency (dena) found that 61 per­cent of Ger­mans expect to main­tain their cur­rent mobil­i­ty habits even after the pandemic.

Demand for greater flexibility and multimodality

Many employ­ees wel­come the new, more flex­i­ble mobil­i­ty as it lets them choose from var­i­ous options, depend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion. Trans­port com­pa­nies and asso­ci­a­tions are respond­ing to this grow­ing need for flex­i­bil­i­ty and are pre­sent­ing their cus­tomers with more adapt­able offers. The impor­tance of the clas­sic sub­scrip­tion mod­el in pub­lic trans­port is cur­rent­ly on the decline. The VDV notes that sub­scrip­tion can­cel­la­tions did not reach their peak at the begin­ning, but lat­er on in the course of the pan­dem­ic. This implies that the con­ven­tion­al pro­vi­sion of pub­lic trans­port is not ade­quate­ly meet­ing people’s mobil­i­ty needs dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. One response to this issue is to devise new tick­et­ing mod­els. For exam­ple, Verkehrsver­bund Stuttgart (VVS) has intro­duced a new 10-day tick­et that can be used flex­i­bly on days the user chooses.

Oth­er inno­v­a­tive approach­es are also emerg­ing. A grow­ing num­ber of com­pa­nies now offer their employ­ees a mobil­i­ty bud­get instead of a month­ly or annu­al pub­lic trans­port tick­et, and in some cas­es this even takes the place of a com­pa­ny car. The employ­er pro­vides a cred­it bal­ance that can be freely spent on jour­neys using pub­lic trans­port, shar­ing vehi­cles or taxis. Organ­i­sa­tions embrac­ing the mobil­i­ty bud­get mod­el include SAP, the city of Bre­men and Fros­ta. In this way, employ­ees can make their own choic­es about how to make use of all the mobil­i­ty ser­vices on offer.

Mobimeo’s problem-solution fit

Mobimeo sup­ports trans­port com­pa­nies and asso­ci­a­tions in find­ing appro­pri­ate respons­es to chang­ing user behav­iour. We lever­age our com­bi­na­tion of indus­try know-how, tech­ni­cal exper­tise and prod­uct insights to devel­op inno­v­a­tive solu­tions that meet the needs of both mobil­i­ty providers and users. White label apps built on Mobimeo’s MaaS plat­form offer the full range of local mobil­i­ty. The plat­form is open to region­al require­ments such as spe­cif­ic tar­iff sys­tems and data sources. We have also rapid­ly imple­ment­ed some very spe­cif­ic require­ments in the apps that arose dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, such as show­ing bike routes for users with their own two wheels, show­ing them the option to cov­er longer dis­tances on foot, inte­grat­ing con­tact­less pay­ment and dis­play­ing the lat­est information.

The poten­tial impacts of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic on sub­scrip­tion pur­chas­es and the grow­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty in trans­port choic­es make it more vital than ever to build and expand a dig­i­tal cus­tomer inter­face – as a means of retain­ing cus­tomers, attract­ing new user groups and as a sales channel.

It is still too ear­ly to tell how vac­ci­na­tion pro­grammes, the occur­rence of Covid vari­ants and any relax­ation of social dis­tanc­ing mea­sures will affect the pro­gres­sion of the pan­dem­ic in the medi­um to long term. So it is all the more cru­cial to have the abil­i­ty to adapt dig­i­tal offer­ings to chang­ing user behav­iour at short notice.

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