Is Australia ready for MaaS?

Mobility as a Service MaaS ITS Australia Susan Harris

by Susan Harris, CEO, ITS Australia

ITS Australia has investigated the willingness of Australians to pay for Mobility as a Service products and their preferences for these types of services, and used the key findings to create a vision statement that helps map out the path forward for MaaS.

Over the next 30 years, the size of the Australian population will increase substantially, so much so that between 2017 and 2046, Australia’s population is projected to increase by 11.8 million people.

This scale of population growth, focused mostly in our major cities, offers an exciting opportunity to reconsider how we plan, develop and interact with the built environment, and work to ensure improved national efficiency, sustainability, and importantly, liveability.

“Population growth will transform our cities. Our four largest cities are set to undergo a higher density urban transformation. Our aim for these cities should be to deliver high- quality, higher density living, connected by world-class infrastructure services.”

Infrastructure Australia, Australian Infrastructure Plan: Priorities and reforms for our nation’s future (2016) Transport is a key component of successful cities and communities, and while there is already major public transport infrastructure projects underway in key centres across Australia, the advent of innovative transport technologies and mobility disruptors offers opportunities to drastically change the way we consider transport, as individuals, operators and governments.

In mid-2018, ITS Australia published a report titled Mobility as a Service in Australia: Customer Insights and Opportunities investigating Australians willingness to pay for and preferences of types of services included in a MaaS product. This survey of 4000 demographically representative Australians also addressed the types of governance models customers would prefer MaaS to be developed under.

The key findings resulted in high-level vision statement for MaaS in Australia determined by the project partners and other key stakeholders in the transport and technology sectors across government, industry and academia.

The international experience, particularly in Europe, has seen the rise of collaborative consumption and the growth in business and customer interest in shared mobility services, reflecting a broader transition from an ownership-based economy to an access-based economy.

This has resulted in the emergence of new forms of shared mobility services, including short-term car-share, rideshare, public bike sharing services, and other on-demand transport services, that are changing how customers use the transportation system.

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The turn of the twenty-first century has also seen impacts in private car ownership, with changing and even declining levels of private car ownership across much of the developed world, including Australia.

Decoupling Australians from their cars – why and how?

We consider point seven of the MaaS Vision Statement for Australia to be a significant opportunity going forward; reduced reliance on individual use of private vehicles. With so many more people projected in our cities, there is a pressing need to reduce reliance on individual use of private vehicles to ensure our cities remain liveable.

One of the most visible but less considered impacts of the more than 19.2 million registered motor vehicles in Australia is parking, with increased density and urbanisation, parking is only going to become more of a problem in our suburbs, towns and cities.

A move to share vehicles, rather than have them parked unused most of the day, will help mitigate the impacts of parking and reduce the need for car-park spaces. Parking is a complex challenge in most jurisdictions and working to improve the current parking arrangements will be tackling a range of high-priority issues for local and state governments, business and our growing urban centres.

To that end, ITS Australia is working with key stakeholders in government and industry on a new project to better understand the current parking challenges, and work towards a solution that enables the wider availability and usability of car-share services.

A short and medium-term benefit of this proposal is making car-share programs more attractive to customers and enabling local governments to better manage their parking challenges and enabling effective MaaS products, a probable longer-term benefit will be preparing for the advent of connected and automated vehicles in our cities and communities.

Outcomes rather than outputs

Infrastructure Australia Future Cities Report 2018 recommends Australian governments should focus on outcomes rather than outputs when developing the policy and regulatory frameworks that respond to changing technologies and services. This project proposes to do exactly that and works to improve outcomes for local governments and their communities by enabling car-share programs that are both more effective and attractive to customers, and work to reduce reliance on individual use of private vehicles.

Currently in Australia, car-share programs are allocated designated parking spaces for their vehicles, which members collect from and return to that carspace. Free-flow car parking for car-share (being able to detect via GPS a nearby vehicle, and collect and drop off a car in most available carspaces also detected by GPS). While a seemingly simple proposal, offering free-flow parking for car-share, whereby a customer can collect a vehicle through their member app and pay-per-km to a destination of their choice, and park it where another member of the car-share program can share it.

Our project group will undertake research on the cost benefits and social impacts of these opportunities will lead to the development of a series of use-cases that we will test in real-world environments across diverse locations across the east coast of Australia. The project will mix technology, policy guidelines, and effective stakeholder engagement to offer best practice solutions for adoption and application.

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