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MaaS enables West Midlands residents to travel on a Whim

Posted: 16 December 2016 | Katie Sadler, Intelligent Transport | 4 comments

West Midlands will become the first region in the UK to pilot Mobility as Service (MaaS) to its residents via the Whim app.

MaaS enables West Midlands residents to travel on a Whim

West Midlands will become the first region in the UK to pilot Mobility as Service (MaaS) to its residents via the Whim app.

MaaS enables West Midlands residents to travel on a Whim

Credit: National Express West Midlands

From spring 2017, National Express West Midlands will be trialling MaaS via Whim – an app developed in Finland by MaaS global. The integrated transport system allows people to combine all their travel needs via a smartphone.

MaaS to be piloted in the West Midlands from spring 2017

Users pay for what transport they think they will require – ranging from car hire to taxis, bus, tram and train travel – over the course of a month, or on a pay-as-you-go basis. In addition, the Whim app will also establish the best journey routes and deal with tickets and payments.

The launch follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the West Midlands Combined Authority, transport service providers National Express and SilverRail, Birmingham City Council, MaaS Global and car hire firm Enterprise.  Further transport companies are being encouraged to join in the future.

“Mobility as a Service can transform how people get about this region and by doing so help free up our roads”

Commenting on the introduction, Cllr Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “This is a great idea to encourage people to consider how they get about other than with the private car.

“Mobility as a Service can transform how people get about this region and by doing so help free up our roads and tackle the scourge of congestion which costs this region billions of pounds a year.”

Kaj Pyyhtiä, the Co-Founder and CXO of MaaS Global added: “This is an incredibly exciting location for us to start our first international operation. With their open and forward looking approach, Transport for West Midlands, and local transport service providers from National Express and SilverRail to Enterprise are the true enablers of bringing MaaS to the UK. The ongoing support of Transport Systems Catapult has also been invaluable – we simply couldn’t have found better partners.”

The West Midlands pilot will run for 12 months, involving up to 500 customers. Volunteers are now being sought to take part in the trial when it begins in spring 2017.

4 responses to “MaaS enables West Midlands residents to travel on a Whim”

  1. Bill Barlow says:

    In the big picture, who really benefits?
    – The agency holding the revenues held on the customer’s account?
    – The customer who is provided easy advise/access to money saving alternatives for their planned single vehicle occupancy automobile trips?
    – The overall marketing of public/private transport options in the region?

    I think the psychological impact of making everyone consider their trip making activities in advance is brilliant. However, we must be prepared to scientifically collect data that convinces us of any sustainable behavioral change the experiment produces.

  2. Hans Arby says:

    Much can be learned from the first and thoroughly evaluated MaaS-pilot with 70 paying households i Gothenburg 2014: http://www.ubigo.se/published-papers/

    The most important thing about West Midlands is that the public transport is onboard , allowing reselling by a 3rd party integrator. We had that in the UbiGo-pilot, but only in the pilot. Now we see things finally changing, opening up for a relaunch also of the UbiGo service, starting i Sweden.

    Besides relevant agreements with PTAs, we in the MaaS community must show that it’s possible to run a business by integrating low- och negative margin transport services, i.e. to create value enough also for the suppliers.

  3. Dave Holladay says:

    There is a valuable opportunity to introduce the travelling public to MaaS-lite in the very near future, as the Midlands Metro system undergoes a series of route extensions and refurbishment, especially at the Wolverhampton end, where trams may need to terminate around 2 Km short of the current Wolverhampton terminus for periods during the various works taking place.

    I have monitored previous blockades in London notably St Pancras (2004-05 Thameslink – construction of new St Pancras Midland Road station) within 2 months the number of bikes parked overnight had shot up by 1000% with a ‘hidden’ surge in bikes travelling in with the trains. The pattern was repeated in 2006-07 with the closure of ‘The Drain’ tube line connecting Waterloo with The Bank. I have tracked cycle parking at Waterloo from 2002, when the station and Lambeth Council sensibly formalised the illegal cycling from York Road and the South Bank up the ramp to catch trains against the 1-way system then there were 30 bike parking spaces at the top, now 15 years later there are over 600 spaces PLUS perhaps 1000 (folding) bikes/hour coming in from peak hour trains PLUS over 500 hire bikes going out and coming back – most of which make the journey parallel to The Drain, and form a core % of the cycle count crossing Blackfriars Bridge at peak times – now I believe with cycles amounting to 50% of the peak hour vehicle count.

    Happy to engage in developing MaaS initiatives, as I’ve had 40 years of practice – giving up car ownership in 1976, and working with bike share schemes, integration of bike & rail/bus services, and cycle parking/storage since the mid 1990’s, when I moved on from ‘only’ building cycle routes

  4. Gary says:

    I am a resident of Birmingham and I have sold mobile working solutions for over 15 years, so I am very familiar with trying to change peoples modes of working.

    However, I will travel through the city cente by car but only on my way to somewhere further afield. If I am going into the city centre I would currently use the train anyway, I have 10-15 minute walk to the station.

    I cant see how this app would change or make me consider how I travel into the city?

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