3 takeaways from ITS 2019 Singapore

3 takeaways from ITS 2019 Singapore: MaaS in focus

This October, more than 10,000 participants and 300 hundred exhibitors joined ITS in Singapore. Hot topics crossed a range of dimensions; from multimodal transport to automated vehicles, from the safety of riders to policies and standards. If you didn’t make it this year, we’ve rounded up the top three takeaways.

1. MaaS has the potential to scale

Just within a few years, several MaaS pilots were launched all over the world, delivered by the cities themselves or various third parties. However, only a few players have multiple deployments at scale.

  • Due to a small success rate, the perception of the scalability of MaaS is being diminished. The main identified challenge is that cities are too different, each new launch requiring an adjusted approach and customization of the solution itself.
  • We can already name just a few components like an adjusted business model, MSP integration management, backend customization, data collection, regulation adherence, user verification, etc.
  • Nevertheless, the current situation is that cities and third parties understand that these are just the first steps to create true MaaS. They feel encouraged and challenged at the same time, and have a high motivation to create new and better models through pilots.
  • The tendency to create everything from scratch is evident. We would like to raise the somewhat obvious question here: is it really smart to ignore past learnings, even if they are from less successful launches? Starting from the beginning and in an isolated environment affects both the speed of launch — and the quality of the solution.

2. MaaS pilots should be designed based on realistic goals

It seems that having a MaaS pilot is a goal in itself for most cities. Or maybe the underlying goals are not revealed? This results in poorly designed pilots with little effect and a situation where the city’s expectations are not met, leading to the MaaS project discontinuing.

  • This exact scenario happened in Los Angeles with the GoLA pilot. The project was stopped due to minimal value discovered compared to the relatively high price of running it.
  • The great news is that practices that seemed far away just a few years ago, are already here today. For example, on-demand shuttle services designed their pilots with clearly established and measurable goals, such as solving the first/last mile challenge, replacing transit in areas for more efficient operations, or simply providing more convenient transit to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
  • To sum it up, a good MaaS pilot should start with a preparation phase including extensive research, clear and suitable goals, and KPIs to track the progress and success:

→ The city has a lot of diverse goals, and they should think carefully about which ones that could be addressed with MaaS.

→ Setting up the right KPIs that allow tracking the progress of reaching said goals are vital from the very start.

→ When identifying the goals and KPIs, the city should take into account the needs of both citizens and the local municipality itself.

3. To go faster, cities must lead the development of MaaS

Who should be driving MaaS forward: cities or private entities? When private providers lead MaaS projects, the implementation process tends to be slow. One of the challenges they are facing is to persuade commercial mobility operators to integrate into their individual product.

  • Helsinki’s or Singapore’s city solutions are great illustrations of this exact situation. They both struggled to integrate a broad range of mobility options, as the owner of the platform was a commercial entity — i.e. a competitor to the very mobility modes it looked to integrate.
  • Another way would be for cities to open up their own systems and make it publicly accessible. This would create an infrastructure for others to build MaaS on top of. By looking at the timeframe of how long it took to create public open data and ticketing API, an early prediction is that this approach would be too time consuming.
  • Much more practical, cities could use their own operated MaaS platform as a catalyst to move things faster, while in the background preparing the infrastructure for a more open system.
  • Take Berlin as an example, where it took six months to launch Jelbi — the city’s own multimodal mobility solution. Together with Trafi, BVG built a solution equipped with multiple deep level integrations. It offers Berlin’s citizens one place to find, compare, book and pay for any mobility mode.
  • Here, BVG took the lead in negotiating with MSPs about the deep integrations, and Trafi provided the tech. Moving forward with proper policies in place, the solution could be opened up for the market to expand.

To conclude, we are just at the beginning of the MaaS era. MaaS has extreme potential, though there is an evident threat: the hype can start to wear off if there are no successful deployments with impactful results for everyone to see soon.

We believe that MaaS pilots should be approached more thoughtfully. Pilots need to be designed with the right goals and measurable KPIs. At the same time, we should continue to experiment in safe environments to find faster and more efficient ways to scale. To achieve the utmost of MaaS, the overarching initiative should be led by the cities in close collaboration with external providers.

Driven by a shared purpose to implement an urban mobility solution that is best for the city, its people, and a sustainable future, we must foster relationships between public institutions and new technology providers.

Let’s see what we can accomplish when we work together.

About Trafi

Founded in 2013, Trafi is a Lithuanian tech start-up. Trafi is working shoulder-to-shoulder with cities, countries, and companies worldwide to create the best in class Mobility-as-a-Service alternative for congested cities. Trafi offers cities the possibility to connect all mobility services into one single platform where users can check itineraries and also book their tickets and trips. 

Trafi’s mission is to empower cities’ urban transportation with technology and know-how and encourage citizens to use more sustainable modes of transportation by accessing all services into one single platform. Trafi is currently live in 4 continents around the world and 7 cities.

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