Policies must focus on integrating MaaS with the rare resource of space, says new report

Posted: 19 September 2019 |

Unless ridesharing and alternative transport replaces solo trips by car at a large scale, the impacts on congestion and pollution are predicted to be neutral at best.

Policies must focus on integrating MaaS with the rare resource of space, says new report

A new report from the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE) states that policies need to refocus the use of roads, with Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) playing a key role in the transition towards truly sustainable mobility.

The CERRE report finds that the lack of successful policies to encourage the switch from single use vehicles to public transport is often due to the alleged trouble of using other transportation modes compared to the convenience of private cars.

“If cities are to effectively reduce congestion and pollution, regulation of access to cities must change dramatically. Until now, the constraints on the use of cars have largely remained low”, explained the authors of the report. “An approach promising individual time savings will not benefit the collective interest. To be efficient, policies should focus primarily on the rarest resource for the community: space. Transport authorities must intervene on the uses of roads, sidewalks and pedestrian zones. It is up to them to define the balance between the different uses of roads.”

Public authorities are urged to significantly develop public transport systems that constitute a genuine, practical, fast, reliable and affordable alternative to travel. The lack of public transport in areas of low or dispersed demand also remains a critical issue to be addressed, according to the report.

The CERRE report also finds that new mobility services (such as shared cars or e-scooters) provide unprecedented opportunities to reduce the disutility users would face from simply switching from the private car to public or active transport. MaaS is said to enable users to change their routines, discover the variety of mobility services available, and to combine former and new mobility services.

Shared mobility providers may complement public transport by supplying first and last mile solutions, and by serving areas where public transport is not financially viable, says the report. However, unless ridesharing replaces solo trips by car at a large scale, the impacts on congestion, pollution and CO2 emissions are predicted to be neutral at best.

The report urges urban mobility public authorities not to neglect opportunities brought by new mobility services. Enlarging their spectrum of mobility services will, in a financially sustainable way, ease user life and foster alternatives to solo car use. But to effectively deal with new mobility services, authorities must develop new skills in the data and platforms areas. Platforms, information services and ticketing are crucial to increase the number of users of urban mobility services.

Although digitalisation cannot be considered an automatic solution, the report says that it plays a critical role in achieving this transition to new mobility services. For MaaS to develop, mobility data must be gathered under the umbrella of metropolitan transport authorities.

“Policies for the use of roads should discourage the use of individual cars and incentivise ride sharing. As long as individual cars can move freely and on the same roads and use services in the same conditions as shared vehicles, it is unlikely that MaaS and shared mobility will be successful. In addition, public authorities need to modernise and grasps the opportunities that digitisation and data offer for the transition to a truly sustainable mobility,” conclude the report authors.