Faster fixed and mobile access to the internet and data services have changed how people communicate, find information and shop. They have also increased people’s choices over how, where and when they access online content and services. Interest is growing among transport operators, academics, planners and policy makers about the effect this shift in consumer behaviour could have on the provision of transport services.
An idea that is already being piloted abroad and in the UK is Mobility as a Service (MaaS). MaaS is the term for the digital platforms (often smartphone apps) through which people can access a range of public, shared and private transport, using a system that integrates the planning, booking and paying for travel.
This Report is intended to increase public awareness of what MaaS is;show policy makers why it could be important and is worth investing time and effort to understand; and
clarify the Department for Transport’s (DfT) role in shaping its development in the UK.
MaaS is being developed in response to the growing demand from users for transport to be delivered as an on-demand, multi-mode service that allows passengers to travel door-to-door conveniently and seamlessly. MaaS could revolutionise the way people travel, just as streaming services have fundamentally changed the way people search for, consume and pay for media.
MaaS pilots have shown the potential such schemes have for transforming how people travel, with claims it could bring very substantial benefits for individuals and society as a whole. These include reduced road congestion, improved air quality, healthier travel choices, increased efficiency in transport networks and more effective management of transport demand. These potential benefits align with those expected to be delivered by Government strategies such as the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy and the Future of Mobility challenge, which is part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
If MaaS develops in an uncontrolled way, it could have unintended negative consequences. For example, a poorly implemented MaaS scheme could increase road congestion and worsen air quality, or exacerbate digital and social exclusion. If a scheme’s geographical extent is limited it could create difficulties for people wanting to make journeys outside the area or between areas covered by different MaaS schemes.
Many of the potential benefits of MaaS align well with the benefits the Government is seeking through several of its key strategies. We believe that MaaS should feature more prominently in the Government’s plans. The Department for Transport was right to take a backseat while there were only a few MaaS pilots in the UK but it will need to play a more active part as piloting activity increases. It can do this by supporting and funding a variety of MaaS projects.
Before the end of 2018, the Department for Transport must ensure that its interdepartmental group on MaaS engages with current and emerging MaaS pilots and research initiatives to assess a wide range of models and identify the best ways to ensure the potential benefits of MaaS are realised and the potential costs are mitigated. In the immediate future, there is a clear role for the Government to shape the evolution of MaaS.
We identify three tasks for the Department for Transport. It needs to:
provide practical support for the development of MaaS in the UK; and
review and update existing guidance and legislation and bring forward new legislative proposals where necessary to provide a suitable regulatory framework for MaaS.
Data is key to the effective running of MaaS as it enables MaaS platform providers to deliver up-to-date and accurate information to customers and is key for efficient planning of customer-focused services. This will involve transport operators and MaaS platform providers sharing data on the planning, booking, travelling and post-travelling phases of journeys. The Government needs to take steps to encourage transport operators and MaaS platform providers to share data in ways that are consistent with their respective commercial interests and the protection of passengers’ personal data.
There is little regulation to govern MaaS. The lack of regulation, especially outside London, has caused concern for local and combined authorities, MaaS platform providers, transport operators and passengers. We believe there is a role for Government in helping to define and regulate the emerging MaaS market. We see two tasks for the Government. First, it should review and update current guidelines, codes of conduct and regulations covering the provision of transport services so that MaaS schemes are properly accommodated within the regulatory framework.
Second, it should work with MaaS stakeholders to develop a regulatory framework for those aspects of MaaS not covered by the existing regulatory framework. This could be a code of conduct developed by MaaS stakeholders, but the Government must satisfy itself that any code is fit for purpose and can be enforced. If an approach based on self-regulation cannot be found the Government should be willing to bring forward its own legislative proposals to ensure MaaS develops in a way that protects the interests of its users and wider society. This is vital if investors, MaaS platform providers and passengers are to have the confidence needed to support the growth of MaaS.
MaaS is likely to require the introduction of regulation or legislation to protect passengers when they are making multi-modal journeys. Customers’ interests must be protected in case of accident or failure in service, and their financial interests must not be harmed as the MaaS market grows. We recommend the Government commissions research on MaaS users’ rights and how best these can be protected. The Government should also investigate how fair market competition can be established and maintained to ensure users’ financial interests are protected. This should be done as part of the thorough legislative and regulatory review the Department has said it will conduct in connection with the Future of Mobility Industrial Strategy.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The MaaS concept
1. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) could transform how transport is provided and used, delivering important benefits, and it could also support the delivery of several of the Government’s key strategies and policies.
The Government should not miss this opportunity. We believe MaaS should be a key part of the Government’s ambition to make the UK a world leader in the future of mobility. The Government’s current vision focuses too much on the growth of electric vehicles and connected and autonomous vehicles. We are concerned that the Government does not yet seem to have recognised the full extent of the role MaaS could play in transforming mobility, delivering truly integrated transport solutions, or the wider benefits this could bring, for example by helping to reduce congestion on our roads and encouraging healthier, more active travel choices.
2. We see three clear tasks for the Government. It needs to provide:
Leadership: the Government needs to set out its vision for MaaS, how it wants to see the sector develop, make clear its position on the desirability of a national scheme versus local schemes and how it expects MaaS to contribute to its policy objectives like those on air quality, and how it would expect MaaS to contribute to modal shift and encourage cycling and walking by encouraging schemes to give preference to certain journey types
Practical support: the Government needs to provide financial and other support for piloting and development of schemes, including help developing a framework for governing the sector, the development of standards for interoperability and cross-platform working, sharing experience, helping local authorities and others develop workable schemes; and
Suitable legislative and regulatory unpinning: the Government needs to review the current legislative framework from transport services and identify what areas need to be updated to take account of developments like MaaS. It also needs to identify what areas are not covered by existing legislation and bring forward the necessary legislative proposals.
3. We recommend the Government take a more active and direct role in shaping MaaS to ensure it develops in a way that supports Government strategies and policies, and that the benefits to society are realised to the greatest extent possible.
The Government must explicitly incorporate the development of MaaS into its relevant policies and strategies, including: promotion and development of electric and connected and autonomous vehicles; its Clean Air Strategy; the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy; and the Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge, which in part will involve an update of the Future of Urban Mobility strategy. We expect to see MaaS feature in that strategy when it is updated. (Paragraph 30)
4. The Department should also set out, in its response to this Report, how it is working with other Departments, such as the Department for Health and Social Care and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to ensure MaaS is considered in the development of strategy and policy and that MaaS evolves in ways that support the delivery of key Government policies.
MaaS in practice
5. While in theory the benefits of MaaS are understood, in practice it could lead to unintended negative consequences. These could include increased road congestion and potentially poorer air quality, social and digital exclusion, and boundaries arising from a scheme’s geographical extent. Early research and piloting of MaaS should focus not only on maximising the potential benefits but also on mitigating potential negative effects that could arise from the implementation of MaaS.
We believe MaaS should be tested under as wide a variety of conditions as possible if those in local and central government considering MaaS or who are responsible for designing policies and commissioning schemes are to understand and avoid these potentially costly unintended consequences. The Department for Transport’s approach of watching closely as different models are explored by companies and local authorities has been right up to this point but it should now become a more active participant in shaping the evolution of MaaS. (Paragraph 53)
6. We recommend the Department for Transport help to support a much more varied “test and learn” approach to the implementation of MaaS. We recommend, before the end of 2018, the Department’s interdepartmental group, which has been set-up to work on MaaS, should collect data and information on a diverse range of MaaS projects and develop a means for sharing best practice between local and regional authorities and MaaS platform providers.
We recommend that the Government should focus on facilitating the development of an overall approach to MaaS that tests both the potential benefits and mitigations against unintended negative consequences that have been highlighted in this report.
7. We agree with the Minister that identifying the potential benefits and costs of MaaS is important. But more funding for MaaS will be required for this to happen successfully. Some of this will come from the private sector but there is a case for Government funding. Current Government funding, such as the Transforming Cities budget, is not sufficient to support all the areas with an interest in piloting some form of MaaS. We do not see a case for limiting such funding to just those areas with a metro-mayor. Current funding arrangements overlook rural areas that are unlikely to attract private sector investment.
Opportunities to test how MaaS might help local authorities implement total transport could be lost. If the Government is committed to making the UK a leader in the future of mobility, then it will need to look wider than connected and autonomous vehicles and financially support the testing of a new and emerging MaaS pilots and initiatives, particularly where these can help increase the use of public transport and reduce our dependence on private cars. This is crucial to ensuring MaaS develops in a way that benefits both passengers and society.
8. The Government can take steps that will encourage investment in the development of MaaS. This could include additional funding from Government, and there are potentially sources of funding in other Departments that could be used to help pilot MaaS schemes where there are likely to be health and/or social benefits, but should also look at how the current framework encourages companies and other bodies to invest in the piloting and development of MaaS.
9. We recommend that the Government more clearly outlines its support for MaaS pilots in its budget, estimates and departmental plans. We recommend that the Government take steps to identify how much additional funding will be needed to effectively support and test a broad range of pilots in line with our earlier conclusions. In doing so, the Government should assess the suitability of current funding arrangements, such as the Transforming Cities budget, for supporting MaaS pilots and the extent to which the framework to support innovation encourages companies and others to invest in the piloting and development of MaaS. In reviewing funding arrangements, the Government should consult as wide a range of stakeholders as possible. The Government should investigate how it might secure the necessary funding, including if necessary redirecting funding from other projects linked to its Future of Mobility strategy, for the development of MaaS in the UK. (Paragraph 66)
Governance and regulation
10. Data is crucial to the effective operation of MaaS schemes; transport operators need to share data about the services they provide so that journeys can be planned and optimised to meet the needs of their users. Within a MaaS scheme any agreement between transport operators, for example on how they will share passenger revenue will almost certainly needed to be underpinned by agreements on how data will be shared. Information about how services are used and what journeys passengers make will be needed to evolve services in ways that best meet users’ needs. We recognise that if data sharing is not encouraged there is a serious risk schemes will never be developed at a scale that moves beyond piloting activity and remains sustainable. Data must be shared in an anonymised and aggregated manner to protect passengers’ personal information and the commercial interests of transport operators and MaaS platform providers. We recognise Transport for London’s regulatory approach to data sharing and the 2018 Finnish Transport Service Act as good examples of encouraging data sharing.
11. We recommend that the Government works with local authorities towards a “no data, no service” policy that would require all transport operators to share data if they want to provide a service in a given area. While such a policy must be implemented to promote innovation and growth of the MaaS market it will also bring other benefits and has merit on its own. In developing this policy, the Government must ensure that it does not favour any single actor over another, and that smaller transport operators are provided with appropriate support to ensure they are not driven out of the market by the implementation of such a policy.
12. We acknowledge the disruption MaaS and new forms of transport may pose to local authorities, transport operators and the wider transport industry. These stakeholders are willing to work together and with the Government to develop and implement an appropriate and proportionate level of regulation of MaaS. We recognise that without some agreed rules—either self-regulation based on a code of conduct or regulation by the Government underpinned by legislation—investors, MaaS platform providers and passengers are unlikely to have the confidence needed to support the further growth of MaaS. We recognise that the Government has helped to define and regulate other new markets and we believe that similar steps are needed for the development of MaaS. We see two tasks for the Government: reviewing and updating current guidance, codes of practice and regulations to ensure they cater for MaaS; and the development of a framework to regulate those elements of MaaS not covered by existing legislation. The latter should take a light-touch approach, but the Government should be willing to bring forward legislative proposals if it cannot agree a suitable framework with MaaS stakeholders.
13. It is essential that existing regulations on transport, data protection, and consumer protection are updated to take account of MaaS. The Government should bring forward the necessary legislative proposals as soon as it has reviewed the adequacy of existing regulation. We recommend by the middle of next year the Government should have developed a plan for how it will update existing guidance, codes of practice and current regulations to take account of MaaS. On those aspects of MaaS not covered by an existing framework the Government should work with MaaS stakeholders to develop a code of conduct that sets out roles, responsibilities and expectations for those involved in MaaS schemes. The Government should ensure any code includes consideration of the means by which it will be enforced. The Government should demonstrate its willingness to regulate where a code of conduct proves to be inadequate.
14. We recognise the importance of passenger protection within the context of MaaS. Passengers’ interests (particularly passenger safety) must always be of paramount importance when new markets are emerging, but with the Government’s “wait and see approach” and the current unregulated environment it is not clear this is the case. We conclude there is a role for Government in assessing the risks to MaaS users’ interests, from fair market competition and the pricing of MaaS packages, to individuals’ personal safety. We identify consumer protection as one of the top three priorities for Government, along with measures on data protection and sharing, and the regulation of MaaS covered earlier in our Report.
15. We recommend the Government commissions research on MaaS users’ rights and safety. The Government should also investigate what steps it needs to take to ensure there is fair market competition and that users’ financial interests are protected. This should be done as part of the thorough legislative and regulatory review the Department has said it will conduct in connection with the Future of Mobility Industrial Strategy.