The public transport view: Ownership of the digital customer interface

February 9, 2023
4 min
Photo: Stocksy/Jovo Jovanovic
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.
Mobimeo is developing a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform for everyday mobility. Our goal is to make getting around easier and cities greener – throughout Germany. To this end, we support public transport companies and associations as partners in digitalising their services. To accelerate this process and not leave the digital customer interface to tech companies from outside the sector, we believe it is crucial to establish standards for the key aspects of a MaaS platform. In a series of blog articles, the Mobimeo teams reveal how important standards are for a nationwide MaaS platform. This time we speak to Hendrik Gossmann, Delivery Project Manager at Mobimeo.

Hello Hendrik. Our regular opening question to you: off the top of your head, what three hashtags would you associate with the term "standard mobility platform" from a product perspective, especially when it comes to public transport?

#UnifyPublicTransport, #DigitalisePublicTransport and #OwnTheMoment! These arise from the role of the Delivery Team in software development at Mobimeo: our job is to take a variety of perspectives so that in the end our partners and the users get the best possible product. It's much more than just planning timelines and costs. From the very beginning, we are in close contact with our clients and the other Mobimeo teams – from user research to design and programming. Being involved in the entire development process right up to the release is what makes this job so special for me.


You were very quick on the draw there! Can you explain in more detail what you mean by #UnifyPublicTransport?

Today, the public transport market in Germany is still highly fragmented. That's why there are currently over 100 public transport apps. Each of them stands on its own and rarely works once a user enters a different tariff area. This is extremely confusing for users and makes it much more difficult to scale public transport apps. Especially when the 9-euro ticket was introduced, we noticed that there was a great need for consolidation from the perspective of users and providers. The entire public transport sector should set itself the goal of clearing the current jungle of different tariffs. Not only should ticketing be simplified, but also the apps on offer. We need to provide users with a single app that can be used throughout Germany.


And what do you mean by #DigitalisePublicTransport?

By using a standardised MaaS platform, transport companies and associations can consolidate their digital offerings and develop them more quickly – for one thing, to keep up with international competitors such as Google, Apple and Uber in the battle for the digital customer interface. This requires a Germany-wide solution that is technically scalable and represents a viable alternative to the offerings of big tech companies in terms of user experience (UX).


You just mentioned the digital customer interface. Is that what you're referring to when you say #OwnTheMoment?

Precisely! Companies like Netflix, Spotify or Airbnb have not only revolutionised their respective industries through digitalisation. With their apps and websites, they create a digital customer interface that presents the offering in an incredibly convenient way at the moment of decision. That's why movie and TV buffs turn to Netflix, almost everyone listens to music on Spotify, and holiday-makers search for accommodation on Airbnb. None of the over 100 public transport apps in Germany has so far managed to become the digital customer interface for everyday mobility – despite investments of around 75 million euros each year. It is now up to the transport companies and associations to join forces and offer an all-round solution. Our partners who have based their digital offerings on Mobimeo's MaaS platform can provide search, booking and payment for all mobility services in a single app. This will allow them to remain permanently relevant for their users, even if international platform operators such as Google, Apple and Uber also start selling transport tickets in the future.


What would you say is special about a standardised MaaS platform, especially when it comes to public transport?

The first thing to mention are massive gains in time: instead of offering 100 different solutions for 100 public transport companies, we opt for a standardised platform that is available throughout Germany and uses, for example, just one route search and one ticketing system. In terms of delivery, especially, this saves a huge amount of time: in defining the scope of performance, negotiating contracts and, above all, coordinating and controlling during the development process. What's more, our customers benefit from all future developments of the platform based on the roadmap. This brings the advantage of pooling resources in order to continuously improve our MaaS platform. We have set up our organisation so that we are able to release a new feature every fortnight. Platform scalability is another factor that comes into play here: from the moment a feature is activated, it is automatically available to all existing and future partners. This cuts development time and ensures that all participating partners remain competitive.


And what else do you consider imperative in order to reach the goals of public transport – how about more passengers and improved climate protection, for example? 

The answer is quite simple: the industry must be prepared to think beyond the tariff boundaries of the individual transport companies and associations. That brings us back to the hashtag #UnifyPublicTransport. The Deutschlandticket will be a big step in this direction. In this context, it is vital that public transport providers don't lose touch with their customers, the passengers. Apps based on Mobimeo's mobility platform enable these providers to leverage the strength of their own brand in the region. We design the white-label apps to be adapted to the look and feel of each public transport brand. Another crucial task going forward is to make all modes of transport digitally accessible in one place. Linking sharing and on-demand offers with the Deutschlandticket – especially for the first and last mile – is another great opportunity for public transport.


The Deutschlandticket brings the number 49 to mind – its price in euros. What is another important number from your team's point of view?

Over 70 releases in 2022! For me, this is a clear sign of how quickly we can bring new product features and optimisations to market and constantly improve the quality of our apps. 


Then you must have a lot planned for 2023! We don't want to keep you too much longer, so one last question: what is your future vision for a standardised mobility platform?

This brings me back to the hashtag #OwnTheMoment: we are striving to provide, on our platform, the go-to app for sustainable mobility that covers every need of our users. 


Thank you very much for the interview, Hendrik.