Technology is changing transport. From Google Maps and contactless payments to mobile ticketing and ride hailing apps, the way many of us move around has been transformed by new digital and personalised products and services over the last decade.
Demand responsive transport services tailored to individual needs are no longer the sole preserve of the Community Transport sector, but are now advanced and mainstreamed by public and commercial operators utilising these new technologies. These changes are creating exciting new opportunities for something called ‘Mobility as a Service’, also known as MaaS, which is likely to impact the future of the Community Transport sector.
MaaS is defined by the Department for Transport (DfT) as ‘the integration of various modes of transport along with information and payment functions into a single mobility service’. Its purpose is to deliver seamless online journey planning and integrated digital ticketing across different modes and operators – from bus and rail to active travel projects and community car clubs – with ease and convenience.
Perhaps the most successful example of MaaS in action is Rejseplanen in Denmark. Rejseplanen is an online platform which allows nearly 6 million Danes to plan everyday journeys and buy digital tickets for buses, ferries, metro, trains, city bikes, domestic flights and ridesharing. Its app and webpage are more frequently used than Google Maps in Denmark.
There are also some great examples of innovation with MaaS in the UK, such as the Go NHS Tayside pilot project funded by the Scottish Government. Go NHS Tayside has been rolled out across central Scotland for all NHS patients, visitors and staff to access NHS sites. It assists with journey planning and allow users to book tickets with operators, including Community Transport schemes. Two CTA members – Upper Tay Transport in Aberfeldy and Elder Voice in Blairgowrie – are already integrated and delivering trips.
MaaS clearly has the potential to create a more accessible, inclusive and sustainable transport system in the UK. It could better integrate Community Transport with public transport networks, as well as empower people to make more sustainable journeys by engaging with community-led schemes. It could be a way for the Community Transport sector to increase its profile with a new audience, secure new passengers and users and modernise its offer.
The DfT has decided (for now) against creating a new regulatory framework for this fast-growing, emerging sector. It has instead committed to develop a ‘voluntary approach through a code of practice’ which, it believes, ‘will enable us to support MaaS as it grows without introducing regulations at a time that could stifle innovation’. However, it has not ruled out regulation in the future if necessary.
We’ve responded to the DfT’s consultation on a code of practice for MaaS on behalf of the Community Transport sector across the UK. We need to make sure that the code of practice is relevant for Community Transport operators and users and addresses some of concerns around accessibility and inclusion. We believe that the Community Transport sector is an essential partner to deliver ‘MaaS for All’.
Our submission – which you can download here – makes several key points:
Code of Practice should ensure Community Transport is integrated into MaaS platforms as far as possible to:
Expand geographical coverage, including for rural, remote, island and isolated communities without public transport provision
Ensure accessibility, especially for older and disabled people who may struggle to access public or private transport
Tackling transport poverty to help everyone to access amenities, education, employment, health & social care and other public services
Increase consumer choice between operators and modes in journey planning
Encourage climate action by facilitating modal shift and behaviour change
Some challenges to fully integrating Community Transport into MaaS due to regulatory environment, lack of technological capacity and long-term under-investment – but can be overcome with:
Initial focus on journey planning integration for Community Transport schemes, as achieved by Go NHS Tayside MaaS pilot
Aligning MaaS projects with capacity building programmes for sector
Code of Practice should reflect affordability for users and passengers as key priority
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.