Glimble: Arriva Group’s answer to the delivery of MaaS

Posted: 17 December 2021 | | No comments yet

Mobility just got more interconnected with the launch of ‘glimble by Arriva’ in the Netherlands – a new MaaS app that allows passengers to plan, book and pay for multiple modes, with multiple operators, wherever they want to travel throughout the whole country. Anne Hettinga, Arriva Group Board Member and Managing Director for The Netherlands, tells Intelligent Transport more.

Glimble: Arriva Group’s answer to the delivery of MaaS

Credit: Arriva Group

Customers want easier journeys, and this includes being able to seamlessly connect across more than one mode of transport. This kind of interconnected mobility is essential to make public transport the easy choice and grow passenger numbers as societies recover from the pandemic. At Arriva Group, our recently commissioned research showed that, in the wake of COVID-19, more people than ever before are using active travel options, like walking and cycling, and combining them with new emerging micro-mobility solutions – such as e-scooters – especially for the first and last mile of their journeys. Now that COVID-19-related restrictions are lifting and people are returning to offices and leisure activities, people will want to explore all of the modes of transport available to them when planning and booking a journey. 

Incorporating the first and last mile into journey planning offers a great opportunity to encourage the uptake of shared mobility”

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) provides exactly this solution and is changing the way that travel is consumed in cities which have access to an active MaaS solution. MaaS provides ease and convenience for consumers and encourages the use of public transport by giving access to full mobility solutions. It can bring together all transport options, including active travel, on‑demand taxi services, shared car and bike schemes, new micro‑mobility modes (such as e-scooters) and traditional public transport options, such as rail, tram, bus or ferry.  Today’s travellers are all about door-to-door convenience and not just about station-to station, so incorporating the first and last mile into journey planning offers a great opportunity to encourage the uptake of shared mobility.

Responding to changes in travel patterns and behaviours

At Arriva, we have seen the adoption of digital solutions increase during the pandemic. In some markets where contactless payments systems weren’t already in place, we’ve been able to roll these out in record time. Face-to-face transactions at a traditional ticket desk subsided, and customers increasingly turned to websites and apps. The digital revolution was already taking place across the industry, but this has now accelerated and looks set to stay. 

glimble promotion Arriva

Credit: Arriva Group – Arriva’s app is promoted under the strapline ‘Go glimble’, and it is starting to make waves through national advertising in the Netherlands and promotional stunts, like a branded submarine which took to the waterways of Amsterdam.

We’ve responded to these dynamics and the changing travel patterns and behaviours of consumers by developing our own MaaS solution, called ‘glimble’. It was initially developed for launch in the Netherlands, but it has the potential to roll‑out in other parts of Europe where the data sharing policies can support such an initiative. Investing in MaaS has been a good decision on a number of fronts. It’s good for consumers, because it makes travelling more seamless and interconnected with improved service information; it’s good for local authorities, because increasing the use of public transport and shared mobility will help them to reach their reduced emissions targets; it’s obviously good for our towns and cities, creating more pleasurable and less congested environments; and it’s good for our business, because it has widened our reach beyond our own operations.

In a world where everyone is constantly on the move and connection and accessibility is essential, we know how important it is to be adaptable and nimble for the communities that we serve. But, for MaaS to become a reality throughout Europe, data sharing needs to be facilitated and regulated. By opening up transport data in the right way, the creation of innovative transport solutions can be encouraged, and existing mobility offers improved.

Doing so will support European Union (EU) member states and individual countries to achieve enhanced mobility for all – ensuring accessibility and providing high quality and efficient transport systems at local, regional and national levels. In parallel, this helps to reduce congestion, pollution, CO2 emissions, noise and accidents. MaaS solutions should be centred around public transport but complemented by all other modes.

So, what’s glimble all about?

Users can sort their travel options based on the lowest CO2 emissions, lowest cost, fastest journey time or the fewest transfer stops on the journey”

Glimble is Arriva’s newly created brand with international potential. The app allows passengers to plan, book and pay with a smartphone for most travel options, so they no longer need lots of different travel apps to book different transport options. Public transport options are featured on the app, but so are shared modes – such as bike share, car share and moped/scooter share – as well as on‑demand taxis, like Uber. Users can sort their travel options based on the lowest CO2 emissions, lowest cost, fastest journey time or the fewest transfer stops on the journey. New transport operators and options are continuously added to the app. As well as convenience, the app also facilitates discovery, as people find new ways of getting from A to B.

Travel throughout the Netherlands is possible with glimble and not limited to Arriva’s services, but extends across all operators and all modes, bringing all of the transport options together for fully integrated, multimodal journey planning. Some mobility providers have only been ‘deep link’ integrated, which means that, if a traveller wants to use these, they are forwarded by glimble to the mobility provider’s app. We’re working on a number of developments to further improve glimble’s capability. Every few weeks we release new functionalities or integrations. We learn through feedback from our customers and, with every new release, the app is evolving and expanding further.

Our glimble app currently has some good accessibility features, such as screen reading for low vision users, talkback and voiceover capabilities. The app can identify wheelchair-accessible routes and stations, while also calculating step-free journeys. For those with hand-motor disabilities, glimble is designed with optimised menus and buttons. Other functionalities due to be added to the app include parking locations and a search capability for electric car charging points.

As a public transport company, we stand for inclusiveness and believe that it is important for all forms of mobility to be accessible. We continuously examine how to make the app valuable for the widest possible target group so that all of society can choose the most sustainable way to travel. We’ve worked hard to make the app user-friendly, and we’re now developing it further and looking at how we can include customised transport options for different disabilities, creating an even more personalised service.

Developed in partnership with Moovit

We’ve developed the app in partnership with journey planning technology provider Moovit, which meant that we could launch with confidence.

Using Moovit’s technology, glimble combines official information from all Dutch transport agencies, as well as crowdsourced information to calculate the best route for each journey. Real-time arrival information is also available, so travellers know exactly when their bus or train is arriving, with service alerts to help to avoid disruption.

So, what next?

For Arriva, glimble is a great example of how we as a public transport company can serve our customers with innovative solutions that make their every-day travel experience easier”

Arriva expects to add more carriers to glimble in the coming months, and we also have plans to expand to include Belgium and parts of Germany, from the Netherlands, to make cross-border journey planning and payment more efficient.

MaaS certainly has a role to play in advancing the use of public transport and helping to decarbonise the way that we travel. For Arriva, glimble is a great example of how we as a public transport company can serve our customers with innovative solutions that make their every-day travel experience easier. It has also demonstrated how our business can evolve and grow beyond the boundaries of our own operations and geographic boundaries.

Anne Hettinga is a member of the Arriva Management Board and also Managing Director for Arriva in the Netherlands. He joined Arriva Netherlands in 2000 as Finance Director and was promoted to Managing Director in 2006. He has held a number of senior leadership and Board positions at Arriva during this time. Hettinga is responsible for growing Arriva’s presence in the Dutch market – the largest market in Mainland Europe for Arriva – and for supporting innovation in passenger transport solutions to meet the needs and demands of customers and clients in the Netherlands.