How to build a solid foundation for MaaS with Account Based Ticketing

Posted: 31 January 2020 | | No comments yet

How can transport organisations integrate existing services and processes to support a MaaS vision for joined-up, cost-effective, convenient and sustainable transport?

“The vision for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is to encourage people to stop using cars and to choose more sustainable mobility options instead. This requires seamless integration between the whole range of public and private transport services, modes of transport, and journey types. Access to transport services needs to be seamless and convenient for passengers, using a single digital app. This would empower people to travel smarter, with usage charges that are flexibly assigned to the customer’s account. When it comes to achieving this, Account Based Ticketing is the foundational technology you need to succeed,” said Dave Spillett, Solutions Architect at ACT, a Fujitsu company.

MaaS is all about empowering people to adopt sustainable travel habits that allow them to move about whenever, wherever and however, they want – in the most cost-effective and convenient way possible. MaaS will provide people with the personalised information they need to make smarter travel decisions – particularly regarding which modes of travel and services they choose. Based on conversations with customers around the UK, we expect MaaS to dramatically improve travel experiences for service users in a number of key ways:

First, MaaS will put passengers at the heart of mobility, offering them services that cover their end-to-end journey from their door to their destination. This will help to influence their travel decisions, particularly with regard to reducing dependence on – and usage of – cars.

As well as bringing together multiple modes of transport and multiple operators, digital and mobile apps will be used to provide real-time information that helps people make the best, and greenest, travel decisions. This will work by using data from mapping services and real-time data sources to empower personalised journey information and planning. Using these kinds of apps, customers will be able to see which services can get them to where they’re going, and which is the best travel option in terms of cost, journey time, CO2 emissions, and a range of other considerations.

Second, MaaS needs to offer convenient and consistent access to public and private transport services, with clear and simple pricing. These services should be accessible with a single token of choice. This may be via a mobile phone, contactless card or, in the future, biometrics. Importantly, these payment options need to make it fast and easy to access services, with no need for interactions with drivers or ticket vending machines. Delivering this will require higher levels of collaboration between public and private sector organisations and their technology partners but will make passengers’ entire travel experience much simpler and more convenient.

Third, customers need to be given choice and flexibility as to how they pay for the services they use – with support for both pre-pay and post-pay billing. Options should also include subscription ‘bundles’, discounted advanced fares, and capped fares for the journeys made during a particular day or other time period. Importantly, all this needs to happen transparently for the customer in a way that gives them best value for their travel.

In addition to these savings, service users will be able to choose from a service ‘menu’ of subscriptions and fares that suit them. For a customer who travels to the train station every day, for example, it may be able to combine local bus fares, inter-city rail fares, and even a number of taxi rides, car shares or bike hires per month. This can all be delivered within a single subscription payment bundle that provides excellent value per journey – further helping to reduce car use and ownership.

Taking MaaS from theory to practice

The question for transport authorities and operators is how to integrate existing services and processes to support the MaaS vision for more joined-up, cost-effective, convenient and sustainable transport. The key challenge here is that any MaaS strategy must accommodate a large number of service and modal innovations quickly and cost-effectively – with minimal changes to underlying infrastructure.

To achieve this, business rules and product catalogues need to be centralised in a way that enables changes to be made quickly and easily. Journey charges that can combine services and offer true best value, rather than just blunt price capping, should be quick to configure and easy to introduce. Service use needs to be tracked against a recognised token that can be uniquely associated to a customer, and have the ability to associate approved concessions or entitlements that will drive the correct charges (if indeed they are appropriate).

Importantly, any underlying system must be inclusive and cater for not just the professional commuter, full or part-time, but also for occasional travellers and the unbanked.

Why Account Based Ticketing (ABT) is a stepping stone toward MaaS

Many forward-thinking authorities and operators are looking into the potential of ABT to support their MaaS vision. Because any successful MaaS strategy will require a number of technology building blocks to support it, the first step is to ensure that underlying systems used to manage customer accounts, payments and settlement are integrated and able to work together.

For these reasons, there’s no need to wait for a fully-fledged MaaS solution to deliver incremental improvements to end-to-end journeys. Instead, most successful strategies will depend on implementing the underlying ‘building block’ technologies first.

Of these, a critically important element is Account Based Ticketing (ABT). This can be used as a major stepping stone to MaaS based on its ability to increase public and private collaboration, and to support new transport modes and services that improve services for citizens.

The cornerstone of ABT is that it provides the essential customer account, against which journeys can be recorded and charges applied according to the services used. Additionally, ABT removes friction in the boarding process and at ticket offices or vending machines, with simple ‘tap-on’ and ‘tap-off’ access. This frees passengers from complex decisions regarding ticket requirements, and makes it far easier and more convenient to use a range of transport services.

Additionally, this functionality also reduces boarding times, which means services run faster and provide a smoother experience for passengers. By capturing ‘start’ and ‘finish’ events to track service usage, ABT systems can ensure that best-value fares are calculated. A flexible ABT system is able to bring many ‘MaaS’ benefits to customers, without waiting for a fully formed MaaS implementation. Leveraging the customer account combined with ‘tap-on’ and ‘tap-off’ functionality, diverse payment tokens, and best value billing functionality is ideally suited to supporting the full range of public and private transport services, as well as other retail services such as car parking.

This provides tremendous flexibility for authorities and operators, who can launch a wider range of services to make mobility more accessible, with minimal need for additional infrastructure investments.

Take your MaaS strategy to the next level with ABT

By adopting ABT technology, authorities and operators can focus on passengers and understand more fully how they are engaging with services. Over time, you can plan and launch new mobility services and integrate them seamlessly into your ABT environment, using ‘events’ such as users tapping on and off services to ensure accurate charging and best value.

By applying business rules to the ABT system, you can combine transport modes and operators to give customers a convenient, best-value travel experience wherever they’re going, and whichever services they’re using. You can also create new pre and post-pay offers that deliver even more value to your service users, including tickets, bundled fares, multi-service and multi-operator subscriptions, and more.

Critically, by deploying an ABT system that is based on open technologies and standards, you can easily integrate new services, modes, and operators to your scheme. Whatever service you’re adding, ABT allows you to record usage per account, and to charge for services accurately every time.

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