Intelligent Transport Systems New Zealand (ITS) today hosted industry expert and director of ITS UK, Richard Harris, who delivered a talk about an emerging force in the transportation industry, Mobility as a Service (MaaS).
Harris is also the international director of NZ company HMI technologies, currently piloting autonomous buses and other transportation technologies throughout New Zealand.
Richard Harris of ITS in Wellington.
The key concept behind MaaS, is providing a “back office” that collects data from transport users, providers and authorities to create a single, network-wide transport system, focused on providing optimal routes and modes of transport for the end user.
To many of us, the term MaaS will be an unfamiliar concept, yet international transportation thought leaders are predicting the concept will bring about big changes for personal transport, and soon.
Not only could MaaS change the way we travel, but according to research from a UK transportation think tank in 2014, the intelligent transport market is estimated to grow from its current annual value of around USD$184 billion to around USD$1.2 trillion a year by 2025.
Harris spoke about the importance of being prepared for the changes MaaS will bring.
“We are seeing dramatic change from year to year. You used to be able to skip [transportation] conferences for a couple of years, now if you miss a year, you won’t keep up.”
Harris has previously worked for a number of American transportation technology providers, and has recently joined ITS. He says his personal quest at ITS is to help unlock the community benefits of intelligent transport.
The adoption of MaaS points to the possibility of reduced car ownership, especially with the development of autonomous vehicles. If a user wants a vehicle, they could simply request one via an application developed for that purpose.
More than just an updated version of Uber however, MaaS applications would provide multi-modal transportation solutions, offering the user the option to purchase rail, bus, and airfares, hire public bikes, ride share, and even recommend if it is better to walk.
Harris says honesty and data sharing is the key to MaaS’ success.
“Trust in systems is important, say you ask for a relatively green, environmentally friendly route. The app says, drive here, get a train, then get a bus. If you’re the only person on the bus, it’s not that green. You have to have that data and be honest with people.”
Harris’ ideal MaaS platform would see centralised control of transportation data, with a central authority (a “back office”). That back office would then provide open and free access to that data for developers, to create transport apps for the end user.
MaaS sees centralised transportation data, and aims to create more efficient and cost effictive transport solutions.
“London has made their data open and available for applications. Private companies develop them, stick them out there, and the best ones win,” Harris said.
Harris believes in the future, paying for all your transportation could be as simple as paying for your phone plan
“Instead of owning your car, or even your bike, you get access to it. It’s transport on demand. Just like your phone, you pay a monthly subscription to get your transport requirement.”
NZTA in collaboration with local transport providers, rolled out a MaaS app in Queenstown last month. Named Choice, the Queenstown pilot is a trial run for larger NZ markets. Should choice prove successful, the NZTA plans to bring it to Auckland.
Minister for Transport Simon Bridges is supportive of the technology.
“Enabling the utilisation of improved transport information alongside technology like the MaaS Marketplace is a real game changer,” Mr Bridges says.
Richard Harris will be speaking in Auckland tomorrow, the last of three speaking dates in New Zealand. See the ITS New Zealand website for details.