Data, openness and attitudes: jumping the hurdles to fully-integrated MaaS
Transdev’s MaaS Project Leader, Aurélien Cottet, tells Intelligent Transport’s Sam Mehmet about his views on the progress of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), detailing how collaboration should be at the core of any proposed mobility service.
What is Transdev’s role in the modern mobility landscape?
My responsibility is to coordinate all of the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) projects we have around the world and I act as the operational link between Transdev and its MaaS Investment like MaaS Global or Tranzer. This position gives me a good insight of the mobility landscape.
Transdev is working with a number of cities which want to know how to implement MaaS and, most of the time, they want their own application – they want their own brand. As a result, we at Transdev have developed our own MaaS products with flexible modules to enable a fast customisation for our clients. MaaS cannot be the same in Paris or Rome, for example; even though they are two very big, ‘similar’ capitals in Europe, the mobility services locally are different. They might both have car sharing, for instance, but they are not handled the same way. One of our strengths at Transdev is to really understand each local eco-system to implement the right solution. MaaS is much more complex than just integrating solutions of mobility services. My job is to understand all the different elements.
Right now, having MaaS in your pocket is a luxury
We strongly believe that public transport should be the backbone of MaaS because it’s the most convenient way of transporting the largest number of people at the same time. We believe that MaaS should focus on integrating services around the main transport mode, especially first- and last-mile solutions. If someone has to walk more than 15 minutes to a train or bus station, they will take their car. That’s a major problem, especially as public transport in the city centre is often intertwined with existing infrastructure, rendering it difficult to integrate with new services.
As Transdev has operations worldwide, are you seeing any cross-border emerging trends in MaaS?
Regulation is the key point here. Everybody is talking about regulation, but it is often hard to comprehend. In France however, where we have just passed a law, the French government wanted to have regulation in place before it became a requirement of the European community.
We strongly believe that public transport should be the backbone of MaaS because it’s the most convenient way of transporting the largest number of people at the same time
Without regulation and investment, it’s going to be tough. Often when we talk about MaaS, we see mayors of cities thinking it’s just an application, so it’s free. Of course, it would be great if it was free, but that’s just not the case. Across the world, one of the greatest challenges is educating people on what MaaS actually is, what the implications are, who would use it and what the cost actually equates to.
Citizens in Paris, for example, are already using public transport – in fact, many don’t have cars. MaaS shouldn’t be aimed at Parisians – it should be for the people living in the suburbs. The prime users should be those who live too far away from a train or bus station and are taking their cars to drive into Paris.
What is the best approach to connecting these suburbs, and other rural areas?
The first challenge is the willingness of different operators to be integrated within one application. Private systems, like Lime or Uber, are on board with the concept of MaaS, but don’t want to be integrated into a MaaS application that is not their own – or at least not fully integrated. A noteworthy example is an app in Belgium called Skipper which integrated Uber, but as soon as you go to the payment section you are redirected back to the Uber backend and the payment is then processed there….even if the user did not leave the Skipper App.
If you want to optimise MaaS, you need to have access to all ends of the data, and if a company does not agree to full integration, this is just not possible. Payment is the one key element that people don’t see. If you start to have in-app processes within MaaS, you won’t have all the information you need to provide the best system for your users. I like to say at Transdev, we do B to G to C – business to government to citizen – and that’s a huge difference from B2C.
The real question is how to ensure a private operator will redirect the user to the right service instead of the service that brings the best margin.
What are the main reasons for cities and governments to implement these solutions?
If we think about smart cities, moving people and goods needs to be a commodity. Right now, having MaaS in your pocket is a luxury, because we don’t actually have that many MaaS solutions, as they’re very complex to put in place.
Thanks to MaaS, we’re going to be able to improve mobility for all. It’s going to take time, but for the new generation who are already so used to technology, it’s going to be instinctive for them. We truly are only at the very beginning of MaaS right now.
If you want to optimise MaaS, you need to have access to all ends of the data
I think we’re going to have a three kind of MaaS: B2C like Uber, B2G like us, and B2B like us, too. B2B is very simple. For example, in Germany there are many companies that provide corporate cars as a perk. Yet, in a lot of big cities, people are not using their corporate car. They use public transport during the week, but use their corporate car on weekends. MaaS could provide the solution by integrating public transport with car rental. In this scenario everyone wins; the employee because they have a car to use at weekends, and the company (and naturally the environment) by reducing their CO2 footprint.
There are going to be some constraints due to regulation – in some places, Uber is no longer allowed to operate because they didn’t want to open certain data. I believe MaaS is going to be the solution to these barriers. Certainly, it’s going to take time, but it’s better to take time and ensure that we get things right and impose worthwhile solutions, than face having to change systems every other year.
How many of these new mobility services are going to be here in two years? It’s going to be interesting to find out.
Aurelien joined Transdev as a Sales and Marketing Manager in the Autonomous Vehicle Department, before advancing to become the Worldwide MaaS Projects Coordinator. He started his career as an entrepreneur just after graduating with his second Master of Science in Aerospace, earned at Georgia Tech (USA).
Since then, he has worked for the past 15 years as an International Business Developer and Strategist in diverse fields: semi component, roaming telecom, telecom billing validation, telecom anti-fraud, IT security using two-factor authentication, and factory 4.0 with Testia (an Airbus Group Company).
Now Aurelien brings his expert comprehensive knowledge of complex projects to Transdev to oversee all the local MaaS projects in each country where Transdev is present. He is also the operational link between Transdev and its MaaS Investments such as MaaS Global and Tranzer.