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DfT funding needed to make mobility a success, say MPs

city centre with autonomous pod and pedestrians

The Government should lead the development of new digital platforms for planning journeys to ensure the widest possible benefits, says a new report from the Transport Committee.

In the Report, Mobility as a Service, MPs say the schemes have the potential to transform how people travel, just as technology has fundamentally changed how people search, consume and pay for other services.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will allow people to plan, book and pay for their travel across public, shared and private transport using a smartphone or other device, it says.

Pilot schemes have suggested substantial benefits, including reduced road congestion, improved air quality, increased efficiency in transport networks and more effective management of transport demand.

The Department for Transport (DfT) must now play a more active part by supporting and funding a variety of MaaS projects, says the report.

The benefits will be far wider if MaaS is considered in the development of policy and strategy across Government, working alongside existing work such as the Clean Air Strategy, the promotion and development of connected and autonomous vehicles, and the Future of Mobility challenge, which is part of the Government's Industrial Strategy.

The committee warns that allowing schemes to develop in an uncontrolled way, risks unintended negative consequences such as increasing congestion and exacerbating digital and social exclusion.

Chair of the committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, explained: "The use of smartphones has transformed the way in which people access and pay for all sorts of services, and there’s clearly potential for integrated apps that can handle route planning and booking tickets to make it much easier for people to plan and pay for their journeys.

"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.”

The report says that Government needs 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.

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, it says. 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.

Greenwood continued: "The committee believes MaaS should now feature more prominently in the Department for Transport’s future plans. This can be done by supporting and funding a variety of MaaS projects.

"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."

Fleet representative body ACFO welcomed the report. Chairman John Pryor told Fleet News: “ACFO outlined in its submission to the committee that it believes Mobility as a Service, 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.”

To read the Transport Committee report, click here.

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