The long-anticipated report into the Transport Select Committee’s Mobility-as-a-Service inquiry has been released today.
The report intends to:
- Increase public awareness of what MaaS is
- Show policy makers why it could be important and is worth investing time and effort to understand
- Clarify the Department for Transport’s role in shaping its development in the UK.
techUK is pleased to see that due consideration has been given to the drivers for MaaS, in particular how consumer behaviour and expectations are changing with the rise of digital technologies. Responding to consumer expectations will be a strong factor determining the success of MaaS, or indeed any future mobility business model that may evolve.
It is promising to see that there are strong calls for the Government, especially the Department for Transport, to have an active role in the development of mobility business models, particularly in terms of establishing a regulatory framework that encourages testing, trials and scaling up.
Further to the role of government, there is good consideration of challenges for local government in terms of implementation and geography, which will continue to be a core challenge as we look to improve the nation’s mobility services.
While the overall message is positive, there is a concerning lack of distinction between future mobility services and MaaS. techUK urges the Transport Select Committee to be clearer in its use of the term “MaaS”, particularly regarding the recommendation that “the Government must explicitly incorporate the development of MaaS into its relevant policies and strategies”.
In this instance, does MaaS refere to “future mobility services” or the specific business model of MaaS?
If it is the former, we would encourage the Transport Services Committee to align its vocabulary with the wider transport ecosystem, including that which the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles uses. The term MaaS cannot, and should not, be used to refer to all “future mobility services”. The term emerged from Finland to describe a business model largely for improved urban mobility, and it is dangerous to use it as a blanket term for all future mobility services.
If it is the latter, and the Transport Committee does indeed encourage Government to explicitly refer to the business model of MaaS, we would at the very least express concerns around explicitly referencing only one business model for mobility services in official strategies and policies. As we note in our vision for Future Mobility Services in the UK, there are already multiple business models for mobility services, including MaaS and demand responsive transport (DRT). Referencing one model over others this early in its development, and in the evolution of future mobility services, risks defining a path for innovation and closing off other opportunities. This is not a favourable scenario for innovators and therefore we would urge the Transport Select Committee to further explain this decision.
Overall, it is good to see that the Transport Committee has engaged with a broad array of stakeholders throughout the enquiry. While it is positive to see the calls for more active engagement from Government and the consideration of local government challenges, aspects of the report are concerning as they either indicate a prejudiced selection of innovation trajectories or demonstrate some level of confusion between key terms.