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Mobility schemes could increase congestion and CO2, say MPs

New Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms could ensure a ‘transport revolution’ for fleets and drivers but only if the Government brings practical support and leadership.


The smartphone is centre stage of the shift to a total mobility solution

That’s the view of MPs set out in a new report from the Transport Committee, as it warns that a poorly implemented MaaS scheme could increase road congestion and air quality issues, or worsen digital and social exclusion.

In the Mobility as a Service report, MPs say that MaaS schemes – which will allow people to plan, book and pay for their travel across public, shared and private transport using a smartphone or other device – have the potential to transform how people travel as seen in other service industries.

However, it says that the Department for Transport must now play a more active part by supporting and funding a variety of MaaS projects, using a ‘test and learn’ approach.

As such, the report says the Department’s interdepartmental group, which has been set-up to work on MaaS, should collect data and information on a diverse range of MaaS projects and develop a means for sharing best practice between local and regional authorities and MaaS platform providers.

The report also says a cross-department approach is needed to drive the benefits of MaaS, ensuring it’s considered in the development of policy and strategy across government. This includes working alongside existing initiatives such as the Clean Air Strategy; the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy; the promotion and development of electric and connected and autonomous vehicles and the Future of Mobility challenge, which is part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

The report also calls for the Government to review and update current guidelines, codes of practice and regulations covering the provision of transport services so that MaaS schemes are properly accommodated within the regulatory framework. It adds that passengers’ interests must be protected when they are making multi-modal journeys, in case of accident or failure in service, and their financial interests must not be harmed as the MaaS market grows. There will also need to be effective sharing of data between transport operators and MaaS platform providers, consistent with their respective commercial interests and the protection of passengers’ personal data.

Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP said: “It’s essential that Government has the bigger picture on developing schemes and the maximum potential is achieved. Possible benefits such as cutting congestion on our roads and cleaner air fit in with many of the Government’s current objectives including proposals to promote cycling and walking.

“This is an exciting opportunity to really shape the development of truly integrated transport planning across the country. Now is the time for Ministers to take charge and start supporting and funding current and future pilot projects. Mobility as a Service – MaaS – could revolutionise the way in which people travel.”

The findings were welcomed by ACFO, which is actively working with members to help evolve mobility solutions and gave evidence to the Committee. ACFO chairman John Pryor said: “ACFO outlined in its submission to the Committee that it believes Mobility as a Service (MaaS), should become the future norm with employees using digital devices to select the most appropriate model of travel and pay for journeys to meet personal and business circumstances.

“ACFO is pleased that the report specifically warns the Government that allowing MaaS schemes to develop in ‘an uncontrolled way, risked unintended negative consequences such as increasing congestion and exacerbating digital and social exclusion’.

“It is ACFO’s belief MaaS will only work if government departments/agencies and local councils work together on a joined-up system that will allow flexibility. The integration of transport is not just timetables, but payment systems. The ability to have fully integrated opportunities to buy and use tickets is a must in a fully rounded MaaS system.”

The BVRLA also welcomed the report, with chief executive Gerry Keaney adding: “We would encourage local and regional policymakers looking at Clean Air Zones to incorporate MaaS solutions as part of their mitigation factors to help drive behaviour change.

“Whilst the call for funding of pilot projects represents a good step forward, there is also a real need for more infrastructure and investment as well as a long-term strategy that provides certainty for businesses and local government as they look to plan for the future.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news.