article 13 September

A Tale of Two Cities: Why MaaS is critical to unlocking the future potential of urban populations

We recently launched our first ever manifesto – an expert led document, filled with opinions from experts, academics and European politicians – looking to the future of urban mobility. It addresses the crucial role Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will have in ensuring increasingly congested and populated world can continue not just to move, but to thrive.
Open, and shared, data provided by forward thinking city and transport authorities will fuel the kids of data-rich, intelligent apps commuters need to seamlessly hop between public transit networks and emerging shared-mobility players to get them from A-B. It will take bold thinking, and at times fearless leadership, to open what has too often been deemed private – despite the ROI shown again and again when open data is provided.
But these are the leaders we need to find because, as our manifesto so vividly portrays, they have the power to shape very different outcomes for our cities. We have painted a picture of one city with two distinct futures – one which embraces MaaS to create a new golden age of travel and another which shows is a bleak, dystopian future – based on existing systems and protocols.
And this is no Blade Runner-esque scaremongering; “transport poverty” is very much a reality. A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation proves that poor transport link in the north of the UK is an employment barrier to low-income families. As Brian Robson, acting head of policy and research at the JRF was quoted:
“The experiences of low-income residents makes it abundantly clear that we must properly invest in transport networks within cities not just between them.”
We included these potential, yet all too near, futures to showcase just how intertwined a city’s transport networks and wellbeing are, and how crucial it is that leaders make critical decisions today. This was also something brought to life by Pascal Smet, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Mobility and Public Works, who also contributed to our manifesto:

“How do we avoid a dystopian future in which private cars of today are simply replaced by private automated vehicles tomorrow? We would miss a unique chance at recovering much needed public space that is now occupied by cars. The future of any form of mobility is therefore “shared”. It’s up to city governments to redefine the role of public transport and partner up with the innovation in the field. Public transport needs to remain the backbone of a city. In the future, shared private automated services will have to connect to that backbone within a framework set out by city governments. If we can succeed at that, we will take another leap towards cities with more space to live and wander and a more easily flowing mobility. For mobility is not an end in itself but a means towards better living environments.”

To download a copy of Ito World’s MaaS Manifesto, and for more insight into unlocking urban congestion, click below.