by Susan Harris, CEO, ITS Australia
There’s much discussion these days about once-in-a-generation change; digital disruption, major demographic and societal shifts, and mega-projects offering improvements unimagined by our grandparents or sometimes even our parents.
What has not been seen before though is the kind of unprecedented potential for change in transport that we are currently experiencing.
During interviews with more than 80 leaders in the transport and technology sectors, across government, industry and academia, a strong theme emerged; that not since the mass production of private vehicles around 1920 has there been such potential for revolutionary change in the transport sector.
Transport innovation like ‘Mobility as a Service’, or MaaS, offers the potential to drastically improve customer choices, reduce travel costs, increase network capacity and transport sustainability while improving social and environmental outcomes.
While the mass production of private vehicles obviously had a stunning impact on society and the built environment, the advent of connected and automated vehicles and other revolutionary technologies offer the potential for even greater levels of disruption. Concepts like MaaS are ways we can adapt to, and positively leverage, this societal and technological disruption.
This research project was led by ITS Australia and made possible with support from project partners through the iMOVE CRC. Project partners were supported by a Steering Committee of industry and government experts from the following organisations collaborating on the project and providing invaluable advice and input: Cubic; Department of Infrastructure; Regional Development and Cities; HMI Technologies and Ohmio; GHD; Keolis Downer; MaaS Australia; PTV; RACV; and Transdev.
With these organisations and our project partners, and the perspectives gathered through extensive interviews, a robust discrete choice customer survey instrument was designed to test the thoughts and expectations of a demographically representative sample of Australians.
Project goals and methodology
As found in the recent Transport for London report, Attitudes towards car-ownership and MaaS, both Londoners and Australians strongly prefer a MaaS product that includes public transport. This indicates how important it is that relevant authorities explore how public and private offerings can be integrated effectively.
Access to and integration of data was identified and acknowledged by the majority of industry experts as being a key early consideration to enable any effective MaaS product. With real-time information and potential personalisation for individual customers being highly valued by Australian’s surveyed, data sharing will play a vital role in an effective deployment of MaaS. Therefore, data interoperability standards with privacy and security safeguards will need to be established.
Australians surveyed indicated no strong preference for either government or private operators to deliver MaaS products, yet there was more support for schemes where government oversight was indicated. This suggests that while customers are agnostic regarding who they purchase a MaaS product from, they are generally more supportive with government playing an oversight role, with an underlying expectation of and support for government involvement.
Development of MaaS
A key component of MaaS is the integration of planning, booking and payment into one seamless customer interface. This is a complex process involving many closed back-end systems and proprietary platforms. From the customer perspective this interaction will need to be simple and frictionless.
To enable competition for MaaS providers, a level playing field should ensure reasonable access to potential players, this will require the standardisation of a range of systems that are currently closed or siloed.
Australia is in the embryonic stage of these new transport delivery models, and we anticipate that both perceptions and realities will evolve as we start to experience MaaS and further advance on-demand transport, and this research and subsequent findings are intended to provide an understanding of customer expectations at this point in time.
To fully capitalise on the vast opportunities these coming transport innovations can offer, and endeavour to avoid possible damaging disruption, both public and private sector collaboration and community engagement will be critical, to that end we look forward to continuing the conversation on Mobility as a Service in Australia.
Mobility as a Service offers the potential to drastically improve customer choices, reduce travel costs, increase network capacity and transport sustainability, while improving social and environmental outcomes. Ultimately, MaaS aspires to be more convenient and user-friendly than individual use of private vehicles.
So where to, from here? In both the public and private sector distribution, we are starting the conversation in Australia with a robust evidence base and opportunities for longitudinal studies of attitudes and applications of MaaS into the future.
About ITS Australia
Intelligent Transport Systems Australia (ITS Australia) promotes the development and deployment of advanced technologies to deliver safer, more efficient and sustainable transport across all public and private modes – air, sea, road and rail.
Established in 1992, ITS Australia is an independent not-for-profit incorporated membership organisation representing ITS suppliers, government authorities, academia, and transport businesses and users. Affiliated with peak ITS organisations around the world, ITS Australia is a major contributor to the development of the industry.