Developing ‘Mobility as a Service’ in the West Midlands
Positive change is happening in the West Midlands. A new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) governance model supported by a transformation Devolution Deal with the UK Government, will see an unprecedented step change in delivery to support our collective ambitions for economic growth.
Transport is firmly at the heart of those plans and is led by Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM) – the transport arm of the WMCA. WMCA replaces and builds on the exciting and innovative work of the West Midlands and Centro.
Historically, the West Midlands was the “workshop of the world”. Our challenge is to become the engine of the British economy. The ambition for the West Midlands is to help rebalance the UK economy, closing the £16bn output gap, and leading the Midlands Engine.
As an area of over 5m population WMCA recognises both the challenges we face, and the opportunities that exist. We see the importance of an effective transport system for the creation of new jobs, economic growth which benefits all, new housing, clean air and improved health in our conurbation. As a fundamental element of West Midlands Strategic Transport Plan “Movement for Growth”, we will be investing in our infrastructure - in order to ensure that goods and people are able to move seamlessly throughout the West Midlands.
“Movement for Growth” is based on making better use of our existing capacity, alongside large-scale investment in sustainable transport capacity and supporting operational and smaller scale measures.
Developing ‘Mobility as a Service’
The WMCA area has identified three core pillars of Smart City activity (Mobility, Energy and Health) that link directly to unlocking knowledge sectors and economic growth, as well as being particularly effective at supporting its public sector reform agenda. Whilst the mobility challenge goes well beyond simply meeting future travel demand, in response to this WMCA has established a programme of investment in public transport, active modes, highway capacity improvements and fundamentally smarter use of transport infrastructure using technology and greater integration of transport services.
Within the Smarter mobility arena it has identified ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS) as a critical component to its success. MaaS is a new concept in the transport sector; it provides a new way of approaching how the delivery and consumption of mobility is managed through a consumer focused technology platform(s) which provide end to end journey and payment solutions.
MaaS is the provision of an efficient, personalised transport service, integrating a range of modes and presenting the consumer with the best options for getting from A to B. Flexible ticketing and payment options allow consumers to pay for access to a range of total mobility options, rather than a specific mode, meaning consumers can be modally agnostic.
At the heart of our MaaS agenda is enabling every user to have a better journey experience than they currently can. This is achieved by offering users the ability to buy a service from a MaaS provider that ‘looks after them’ at all stages of their journey. This is a key shift from the block provision of transport, to a much more flexible and customer-centred means of providing mobility in a managed way.
By exploiting our existing productive relationships with the private sector, as well key opportunities such as open and big data, the benefits of MaaS in the West Midlands include more efficient journey making which is more accessible to all our residents, better use of our transport system, journey decisions which our better informed by their health and environment impacts and a more mobile workforce supporting our economy. We will achieve this through the parallel development of system which addresses:
- Journey Guidance & Planning - real-time journey planning which allows a user to plan their journey, choosing from multiple modes that are ‘intelligently’ suggested based on their personal preferences - for example, cost, comfort and time. In-journey and pre-journey alerts are automatically integrated with the transport system to support traveller advice on early or later start times, or different choices during a journey.
- Ease of Transaction - The user can access mobility using a range of payment channels for example a phone, watch, smartcard or bank card regardless of which modes of transport they use or their personal financial circumstances.
- Flexible Payment terms - The user can pay for their mobility choice via pre-pay, post-pay or pay-as-you-go.
- User Experience – Data analytics will enhance the overall user experience. This feature may be seen as a virtual “concierge service” that provides the user with the best possible whole journey experience by managing the choices they make. Rich intelligence enables operators, systems and infrastructure providers to refine their services.
- A Personalised Service - A fully personalised service that builds a relationship between the user and the MaaS provider by allowing two-way communication. The MaaS ‘service’ will be highly customer relevant and focussed and will react to user feedback.
In conclusion, MaaS provides the West Midlands with a new and effective opportunity to achieve strategic policy aims, attract public and private sector funding and demonstrate that the West Midlands is continuing to innovate to provide world class solutions to our transport policy challenges.
Adam Harrison - Senior Transport Policy Advisor
Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM) – the transport arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA)
adamharrison at wmita.org.uk
Updated : March 27, 2017