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Better information needed to enable MaaS

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Traveller information must be made much more widely available and reliable before Mobility as a Service can become a reality, a group of the UK’s leading public transport experts have warned.

Attendees to a recent meeting of the ITS (UK) Public Transport Interest Group in London pointed out that only a quarter of bus companies have their timetables organised electronically.

It was stressed that more complete real time information is required from local authorities and transport operators to deliver making dynamic travel solutions. Furthermore this data needs to be standardised so that multiple information sources can be integrated into a single system.

Experts at the meeting included representatives from Innovate UK, Trapeze Group, the University of Westminster, AECOM, Atkins Global, and Transport for London.

The meeting also heard that a wide range of different traveller information apps are likely to compete for a while before a case of “survival of the fittest” leads to a consolidation of solutions, based either on better user experience or lower prices.

It also heard that local authorities have two choices during the development of MaaS solutions – wait for it to happen, or influence it. The group agreed that authorities need not exercise full control or deliver services themselves, but must define quality standards and rules on information sharing.

The group concluded that there is a need for greater integration so that delivery is not in silos – especially as provision moves from public to private sector provision – and highlighted a need to set performance and service metrics applicable to every provider.

Other presentations focused on understanding passenger movements and the introduction of ITS into Scotland’s western isle ferries.

Interest Group chairman Gary Umpleby of Hogia Transport Systems commented: “We have considered a plethora of gaps that need filling to enable us to achieve the ambitions that we all have for a highly integrated transport system. If we can fill these gaps we will deliver the societal benefits we know can happen.”

ITS (UK) secretary general Jennie Martin added: “ITS in public transport is going through an exciting period with new approaches such as MaaS and new attitudes to data ownership and reuse. Our Public Transport Interest Group is the focus for our work in this exciting area and we are grateful to Hogia and AECOM for the leadership they provide to the group.”