Public transport companies and associations (PTs) are the embodiment of shared mobility. Long before there were “modern” shared mobility services, public transport was offering people sustainable mobility options. Taking the next steps, it also makes sense for these players to enhance the connections to other mobility services. In addition, they have the great advantage of already being well known and seen as the “go to” institutions for mobility within their regions.
Public transport can benefit from MaaS solutions in many ways. On the one hand, MaaS enables PTs to keep in touch with a broad range of existing and potential passengers, even if they don’t use public transport regularly.
On a broader level, MaaS also allows PTs to actively shape the mobility offering in their region, with public transport forming the backbone of sustainable everyday mobility. It is a very insightful way to learn about user needs, plan capacities and develop new product offerings such as novel ticket or subscription models.
Many PTs are already experimenting with providing new mobility services under their brand - especially ride-hailing services to save costs on under-used bus lines. In this context, MaaS solutions hold the opportunity for PTs to digitally aggregate their own offering and those of external providers. MaaS can of course also bring interesting new ways for PTs to market their own services.
Individual software development is unfortunately still the most common way PTs go about sourcing their digital solutions: they come up with long lists of features which they then procure over product life cycles of five to even ten years. While in the short run this might result in a decent product, this approach has many disadvantages in the long run. Specifically, it prevents the product from being developed in a user-centric and agile manner. The expected features are already described in detail and the requirements do not open up room to build a roadmap for continuous innovation.
The alternative approach is the platform model: it is centrally developed on the basis of B2B and B2C research. This approach is a lot more flexible. There are no requirements covering a ten-year time span, but the next steps for product development are regularly reviewed. Thus, the risk of developing past the needs of the market is much lower than with the traditional approach. The platform is also a more efficient means of procurement: since the development effort is distributed among several customers, the actual features are less expensive per partner and less time consuming to integrate.
Firstly, to make the implementation of a MaaS solution successful, it’s crucial to keep in mind who it’s all about: the users of (urban) mobility solutions.
Additionally, it's important to be and to stay open to new options: an iterative approach may not result in the perfect solution straight away, yet it will lead to better results in the end. This also includes new means of procurement. Nobody knows what kind of features or technology will be needed in the future. Therefore, PTs also have to maintain a certain flexibility in their procurement process and the underlying contracts.
From my perspective, PTs can only implement MaaS successfully by knowing their own skills and capabilities as well as their limitations. This will lead to trustful cooperation with partners that contribute the additional skills needed to successfully digitalize everyday mobility.
Thomas Knaup joined Mobimeo in early 2019 and has been shaping the company’s market perspective since the early days. As Business Building Lead, he and his team are our experts for the mobility market.