2nd Annual Conference: Openness and Mobility as a Service

26 September 2017, The Atrium, London NW1

This conference showcases practical approaches to embedding Mobility as a Service in the UK.

It is an essential event for those engaged with commissioning, developing and advising on new mobility and MaaS programmes. The programme is framed around policy and strategy and will look at the principles of openness and practical case studies to demonstrate when, how and why to apply it.

It will look at case studies including MaaS activity in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands. It also includes a workshop session, led by University College London, on benchmarking openness.

For more details and to book online click here!

The MaaS Challenge for Rail

The rail industry is a relatively complex and capital-intensive one for businesses to enter and develop market share in. The railways are expensive to build and maintain, buying and running trains requires a significant initial outlay, while the cost of research and product development is much greater than many other sectors.

Much of this is due to the sheer cost of infrastructure, the scale of railways as a mode of mass transit over long distances, the safety-critical requirements and technical standards set to effectively regulate railway operations, and the need to deliver a suitably long design life to make the investment worthwhile.

However this does not mean that the rail industry and railway networks will remain static and inflexible to changing trends in society. Megatrends such as the increasing urbanisation of the global population, and the growing impact of climate change, are changing behaviours and creating the need for responses from the rail industry. Those responses are happening, Alstom recently launched the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell train in Germany and plenty more energy efficiency innovations are being developed across the rail industry.

But the most interesting and visible opportunities are targeted on improving the passenger experience for everyone travelling by rail. These opportunities can generate huge positive impacts for how travellers experience rail travel and ensure we continue the growth in demand and ensure continuing investment in our rail networks. There are a number of key areas where disruption could fundamentally change how passengers both use and interact with the railway:

  • how passengers plan their journeys to and from rail stations as well as their actual journeys (including navigating interchanges and route options);
  • the fares offered and types of ticket available, as well as the form the ticket takes (paper, barcode, season ticket, carnet etc);
  • the availability of live journey information as well as personalised information and wider opportunities to enhance the journey for every passenger.

Our expectations of how we use and interact with the rail network are changing. In just the last few years we have seen the development of a new interface between rail operators and passengers with social media providing a new, instant medium of communication. Twitter in particular has provided the ability for real time information on live network issues and a place for passengers to engage with train operators directly and in public.

But more than just the development of technology, and the increasing use of smartphones and wifi, allowing passengers to be always connected, is the greater opportunity to bring together all aspects of travel into one place and shaped around each individual user and their specific requirements. This single interface, total integration approach is driving the development of Mobility as a Service.

How can Mobility as a Service change our transport provision?

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) brings major opportunities for transport networks and how they deliver services to their customers:

(1) Customer-centric: MaaS creates a step-change in the relationship between the transport user and the transport networks. The passenger will no longer have transport ‘done to them’ in terms of having to navigate a static transport network offering a range of different modes, tickets, fares and timetables. Instead, MaaS provides a dynamic service that is individually tailored for each customer according to their specific needs for that journey.

(2) Access over ownership: Instead of having to absorb the capital expense of upfront payments for buying a car or a season ticket, the passenger can instead buy into a service model of provision that can focus on the outcome – instead of investing in one mode of transport and owning that as a fixed asset, the user can instead pay for the ability to make the requisite journeys. MaaS allows the user to purchase the opportunity to travel without the commitment to only one specific mode of transport but instead providing the access to whichever mode is best suited to the journey.

(3) Making transport equitable: We often find that car ownership does not provide the right solution for every journey we wish to make; likewise the rail season ticket may not allow us to take every rail journey we need. Designed correctly, the MaaS model will allow an effective subscription that is tailored for every individual that allows them to pay for the mobility opportunities that they actually use. This provides a far more equitable means of access to mobility by providing the best value without requiring significant investment in a car or a season ticket.

Taken together these three features of MaaS provide a methodology for improved provision of, and access to, transport services. Alongside this will be prime opportunities to use MaaS to nudge traveller behaviours in order to support policy objectives including use of more sustainable transport modes, reducing emissions and improving air quality, greater use of public transport or active travel modes and many more.

The adoption of MaaS is premised on an integrated transport offering to each individual transport user based on their specific requirements. As such, the MaaS model could be priced to reflect both the priorities of the passenger (speed, comfort, cost etc) as well as the relevant transport authority. For example, a city region may use a MaaS service provision to encourage more use of public transport modes by incentivising users via price mechanisms away from cars and onto rail. Additionally, MaaS pricing mechanisms could be dynamic, focusing on incentivising price-sensitive users to change their time of travel away from peak hours to try and smooth out demand for travel at rush hour.

The potential for MaaS to transform the rail sector for the benefit of passengers

A key principle to the success of MaaS is the provision of integrated transport services focused on individual passenger need. We often hear that autonomous vehicles will take over all transport but this is highly unlikely given the advantages that public transport brings in terms of capacity and efficiency.

However, it is time for the rail industry to get on the front foot and start to proactively address the opportunities that new technologies are bringing.

Within the last five years we have seen the rapid adoption of smartphones across the general population. This has brought a seismic shift in passenger behaviours and expectations. The customer now has a number of means of engaging directly with train operators as well as with other passengers. Social media has brought the ability for passengers to communicate their experience and to broadcast any issues with trains to a much wider audience in real time. In addition, this mass adoption of social media also offers the ability to use tools such as sentiment analysis and location tracking to develop a much richer understanding of how passengers are using and experiencing the rail network. The important point is that the benefits are not solely for passengers – the rail industry can derive huge benefits from passengers becoming much more vocal and proactive, with the aid of their smartphones, as this provides huge amounts of data that can be used to target passenger experience improvements.

One aspect that the rail industry must address is ‘constant connectivity’. In 2016, we expect to be able to access data networks on our smartphones at any time of day and in almost any location. The success of the railway as a mode of transport is in allowing passengers to use their time more comfortably and productively during their journey. Key to that is remaining connected for the duration of every journey.

On board wifi, live journey information and the space to work are minimum passenger expectations now. We need to see the train provide a platform for passenger connectivity, where passengers can work, rest and play as they require. This is relevant to MaaS as it will fundamentally shape the preferences and behaviours of passengers. Rail as a mode will lose out if it does not step up to the challenge of other modes, such as ridesharing in particular, and offer real value and clear benefits for passengers.

The rail sector could hugely benefit from the arrival of MaaS if it can address these 4 factors:

1. Integrating rail into the whole end-to-end passenger journey

The value proposition for MaaS lies in the individual user to be able to remain ‘modally agnostic’ i.e. they have no pre-commitment to any particular mode of transport, instead the system will offer the most appropriate opportunities based on the specific context of any particular journey. To this end, every rail journey must be integrated into the wider end-to-end journey offering in the most effective and simple manner in order to provide a competitive and compelling offer. Key to this is the journey planning and live information aspects of the journey as well as the payment and cost structure of allowing the user to select a rail journey over a car journey for example. This requires train operators to integrate their fare structures into a much wider system of journey design and delivery.

2. Developing a business model that recognises the value of a rail journey as one element of a complete passenger journey

Following on from the last point, the provision of rail services within a MaaS system will need operators to integrate their offering with alternative modes of transport with a requirement to compete on multiple measures (time, cost, comfort etc) which would be managed by the MaaS platform on behalf of each individual passenger. To this end, the business model for passenger rail operations within a MaaS system may lead to innovative new models and more variety in passenger experience offerings, including much more distinctive offerings that really differentiate and enhance the value of rail journeys compared to the experience with other modes of transport.

3. Delivering an improved passenger experience across the whole rail element of a journey, including through the station, interchange elements and access to and from stations

Through recognising and integrating each individual rail journey into the wider end-to-end journey for each passenger, the rail industry must take much more initiative in physically integrating the rail element of the journey into the whole journey as seamlessly as possible. Within a MaaS environment, each passenger will potentially be using multiple modes of transport and changing the way they travel more often to get a more appropriate offering for each particular journey. Accordingly, passengers may change their behaviours more often which will require better information and clearer guidance along the whole end-to-end journey. In addition for rail to reap benefits from MaaS it must target the passenger experience in order to highlight why it is such an effective mode of transport for the majority of people. To do this, the rail industry must make access onto the rail network, around the network and off the network onto other modes as easy to undertake as possible. Clear wayfinding and signage, easily-navigated interchanges, decent and accessible facilities and accurate, reliable live information are all critical parts of the passenger experience alongside the actual journey quality for everyone using the rail network.

4. Improving the on-train passenger experience

Rail travel needs to reinforce its position as the best way to cover distances in an easy, efficient and comfortable way. Rail will always have the major advantage of being a highly effective way of transporting lots of people over distances quickly and into congested areas far more effectively than with more individual modes of transport. Connecting in with MaaS it can also reinforce the point of improving transport equity, ensuring that good value travel is available to everyone.

But above that the quality of the journey must become a greater focus. The easiest way to develop that is recognising the variety of uses that passengers put their time to during a journey. So, more support for:

hi speed internet for browsing and social media; then making more of that content relevant to each user and using that data to provide improved services to passenegrs – both direct transport services and connected commercial services;
augmented reality; for those of us who always stare out of the window, make that window to the world more interactive, tell me what i am looking at, what its significance is, the history, the local services etc;
provide a closer link between the train service itself and the passenger; what is happening at the next stop? what services are available? what could i do if i took this journey next month?? the opportunities are unlimited to both get to know your passengers better and provide them with more opportunities as a result of taking the train – make it worthwhile to come back; make the train journey an experience rather than just a commodity service.

While the development of MaaS brings major opportunities and undoubtedly disruption, the final interesting area to explore is the structural impact that MaaS might have on the rail industry as a whole.

The emergence of mobility service providers

Train services may be integrated into a wider MaaS offering for individual customers which may see a structural split between the provision of rail capacity – which would be the infrastructure and the train services – and the provision of mobility service providers – who would act as a broker purchasing capacity on train services for their individual MaaS customers. As a customer, I would have my monthly MaaS contract allowing me to use a specified range of transport options and the ability to top up or to upgrade as I felt. My contractual relationship would be with the service provider and they would be responsible for contracting with the train company to deliver me my seat. Then there are also the further commercial opportunities beyond that…

Development of new business models including procuring outcomes and service agreements

If we see a new paradigm emerging with MaaS, it might look something like this:

Infrastructure and Services – the trains and the railway network

Mobility Service Providers (MSPs) – the brokers connecting the supply with the demand

Travellers – us, the general public providing the transport demand

This has the potential for MSPs to become major companies brokering transport provision on behalf of the economic buyers – be they individuals, companies, tour groups, councils etc. This could also allow for infrastructure and services to become more responsive to actual demand but also allow for policy interventions to be backed up with the MSPs using nudge techniques and incentives to ensure that supply is used as efficiently as possible in order to reduce waste and ensure value for money.

Greater integration of rail with other modes

Ultimately, the important part is to consider how the railway can thrive in the emerging world of new technologies that are developing major transport innovations including Mobility as a Service. The critical element is ensuring that rail is integrated into the whole journey, customer-centric approach that MaaS is focused on. More importantly, rail is well-placed to support transport equity and ensure that people can afford to travel.

For MaaS to work it needs to provide good value and a whole journey approach that wraps the customer in an easy-to-use focused approach enabling them to get on with their lives. Rail will play a vital part in that – providing the backbone of many many journeys that need the innovation to happen at either end of the rail journey where the distribution of journeys suddenly explodes into a multitude of options.

Conclusion

I firmly believe that rail is not at risk from the emergence of autonomous vehicles and other new transport technologies and trends. But it must modernise its approach to passenger experience and customer service. And it must feel more modern and be perceived as modern in the 21st century.

That is a relatively easy challenge to address. It must also include permanent connectivity for passengers and think much harder about how people go about their lives and how it could fit into that more easily.

Finally, the railway needs to consider the major disruptions that will surely come in terms of industry structure, business models, ways of operating and regulation. And it must consider it within the wider transport system of systems and not in a piecemeal manner – that is probably the most critical point of all.

Alex Burrows, CEO, TravelSpirit Foundation

Open Source Solutions

Open source is enabled by granting permission in advance through a standardised copyright license.

The term “open source” was coined at the end of the 1990s to embody the application of the older concept of “free software” (software with its user freedoms intact) when applied to communities of developers that potentially included commercial users.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) was formed in 1998 to advance the term, and since then has acted as a standards body for copyright licenses. Using an open process, OSI evaluates whether copyright licenses comply with the Open Source Definition, a ten-clause statement allowing objective evaluation of the effectiveness of a copyright license to deliver the freedoms to use, improve and share code.

In the last 18 years, OSI has approved many copyright licenses as open source, providing a richly varied scope for open source development. All these licenses allow use of the code without any preconditions whatever, and grant permission in advance to improve the code and to share the original or improved code with anyone.

Some licenses place preconditions on the sharing of the code, most frequently by requiring that anyone doing so reciprocate on the liberty they enjoy by making the same liberty available to recipients of the code. In a play on the word “copyright”, licenses requiring reciprocal license terms are called “copyleft”.

The scope of the required reciprocity varies. Some licenses require projects incorporating their code to share the full source that corresponds with the program being given to users. These project-reciprocal licenses are sometimes termed “strong copyleft” with the best-known being the GNU General Public License (GPL). Other licenses limit the scope of the required reciprocity, for example by only requiring the reciprocal sharing of the source of modified files (the Mozilla Public License, MPL, does this) or only requiring reciprocal licensing if the source code is shared (the Eclipse License does this).

Scope-limited reciprocity makes it easier for existing companies to execute their business models outside the project, so we believe use of a scope-limited open source license will lead to more rapid growth of TravelSpirit and the markets associated with it.

Since existing code that is likely to be used by TravelSpirit is licensed under both the non-reciprocal Apache License and under the project-reciprocal GPL, we need to select a license explicitly compatible with both. We will therefore use the Mozilla Public License version 2 for all new code in TravelSpirit that is not already subject to another license.

An open source model leverages copyright to create innovation, collaboration and market growth

All code is automatically protected by copyright the instant it is created, and without a license from the copyright owner almost all legal reproduction of the code would be impossible. In proprietary contexts, copyright licenses are granted in exchange for payment, as a convenient control point allowing a vendor to recover the costs of development and profit from code.

But this is not the only way to leverage copyright. Open source projects license the copyright under an OSI-approved license in a way that creates permission in advance for improvement and use, and as a result encourage commercial use of the code outside the scope of the project. Companies working with open source code have commercial models that do not rely on the artificial scarcity of the code that results from a proprietary license. Instead, they use the code to enable generation of revenue by other means.

A well-constructed open source project consequently allows many enterprises to benefit from code, rather than just one. New entrants to the market will still need new business models and new investment, but do not need to re-implement basic and well-understood code which is non-differentiating.

Since it is non-differentiating, it’s unlikely such improvements will lead to significant business advantage but rather to the maintenance burden of maintaining an independent “fork” of the code. As a result, businesses sharing open source code are incented to contribute their improvements to the code back to the community, with the consequence that the shared code is constantly being improved by every business adopting it.

This continuous improvement leads to shared innovation, to collaboration and to the growth of the market generated by the code. These benefits are likely to greatly exceed the benefits that would have accrued to a single entity seeking to directly monetise the copyright.

Existing projects should be used and improved where possible, reserving new development to gaps

 The Open Source movement, together with the Free Software movement before it, have caused millions of lines of code to be liberated under open source licenses. As a consequence, the basics of any software system are highly likely to already be available in a collaborative project somewhere. It is better to default to using existing projects, improving them where necessary and contributing the improvements upstream.

For TravelSpirit, just a cursory investigation has disclosed a number of possible upstream projects that can be combined into new MaaS solutions. Some samples:

FreeGIS, a local government GIS

  • Open Trip Planner, a widely-used trip planner based on and released as open source software
  • DigiTransit, a travel planner app based on Open Trip Planner
  • KillBill, a subscription billing framework

Open source and open data are necessary but not sufficient.

A collaborative development will need source code licensed so as to give every participant permission in advance to use the code to satisfy their extrinsic motivations. The code will almost certainly consume external data that will need to be licensed in such a way as to permit such consumption, and will need to expose APIs and emit data licensed in ways to allow downstream consumption.

These are “hygiene factors”, necessary for open collaboration but sufficient neither to cause nor to guarantee it. We will need to go beyond open source licensing to also stimulate and protect open development and representative governance.

Open development occurs when all decisions are publicly documented, all resources are open source and all bona fides participants have equal rights.

Development in the open is inclusive and empowering. Experience shows that the collective memory of a community – both short-term and long-term – must be available to all if development is to be accessible to all who wish to participate. It’s thus essential to apply consensus rules such as those used by the Apache Software Foundation, where all code commits are documented, small enough to be reviewable, logged to a mailing list and subject to challenge.

Apache asserts that “if it didn’t happen on the mailing list, it didn’t happen,” a rule to ensure that all in-person interactions are fully documented for all participants. Even when a project comprises a few co-located people, it is vital to follow this rule otherwise new participants will have lesser rights in practice whatever their rights in principle.

Open collaborative tools, open licensing, self-governance, non-discriminatory respect, release-train schedules and shared assets are the keys to open development.

Open development is now a well-understood practice among open source communities. We expect TravelSpirit to operate using the following default practices:

Open collaborative tools: We will use open source tools to support community interaction and software development, rather than proprietary tools. We will also seek to ensure that it is possible to migrate between hosting arrangements and also to migrate to alternative solutions.

  • Open licensing: All code we work with will be licensed under an OSI-approved copyright license compatible with the Mozilla Public License version 2. All non-code assets will be licensed under the equivalent Creative Commons license, CC-BY-SA-4.0-Intl.
  • Self-governance: Decisions will be made by current, actual contributors, possibly with reference to a larger body of former contributors where decisions are not readily reversible by future participants.
  • Non-discriminatory respect: We will require all participants to abide by policies requiring respectful interaction that is not affected by externalities of the individuals or companies involved.
  • Release-train scheduling: We will release software according to a pre-determined schedule (a “release train”) to ensure that all participants have their improvements included in a timely manner, that security fixes are circulated promptly and that no party is able to prevent releases based on their own preferences alone.
  • Shared assets: We will cause all common assets – funds, trademarks, collective copyrights, employees, events – to be in the stewardship of an independent entity beyond the control of any one participant.
  • Open Trust: Collaborative projects will have shared assets that need managing. An independent legal entity is the best vehicle for this, and we believe a fiduciary and administrative umbrella is a wise first home.

Collaborative projects will have shared assets that need managing

Once a collaborative project is in progress, the collaboration will naturally start to require the management of shared assets on behalf of the community of collaborators. This will include technical assets such as a source code repository, mailing list service, wiki, translation memories, build services, test systems and so on. While these can in many cases be hosted on shared services such as GitHub, it’s important to ensure that no member of the community has exclusive control. Even the most trusted individual can leave a project, and a lack of clarity about who legally “owns” those servers can lead to painful disputes.

Even more important is the stewardship of legally-recognised assets such as domain name registrations, trademarks, shared cash from donations and other sources, hardware bought for general use and so on. It’s very important these assets are legally controlled by the project rather than by a subset of individuals.

In time a project may have more significant assets, including public events, staff and even premises. By the time these are acquired, a community must definitely be anchored in a legally-recognised entity.

An independent legal entity is the best vehicle

Most projects aspire to creating a legal entity of their own, such as a limited liability company or a non-profit company. While it’s easy to start such things, getting it right and ensuring the control of the entity is in the right hands from the beginning – before there’s a crisis – takes experience.

Many people assume the best way to triage these issues is to start a new charitable entity – often colloquially called a “Foundation” irrespective of the actual structure – as these are government regulated and must incorporate both equitable treatment rules and not-for-profit objectives. But experience shows that starting a charity doesn’t actually guarantee as much as people expect. It’s still important to have the benefit of experience, so starting a new “open source foundation” – the expectation of many collaborating groups – may not be the best first step.

A fiduciary and administrative umbrella is a wise first home

Experience also shows that projects may be better protected seeking the shelter and assistance of an existing “umbrella” charity designed for open source projects. A number of these exist – Software in the Public Interest and Software Freedom Conservancy, both in the USA, are well known. The Apache Software Foundation has evolved into a form of project umbrella, providing its “incubator” process as an on-ramp for new projects, and the Linux Foundation is evolving an equivalent process. Outercurve Foundation can also offer assistance, viewing themselves as a liability firewall for contributors and sharing their excellence at packaging open source IP. Also referred to as fiscal sponsors, this approach is addressing a real need for, as open source becomes more popular and mature, formalizing the governance and corporate structures of open source projects.

In Europe, such arrangements are much less common, but a new open source umbrella Community Interest Company (CIC) called Public Software is being formed for European projects, and that’s an entity that holds good promise to host TravelSpirit open source software projects in the future.

Visit TravelSpirit Foundation to find out more on how we’ve evolved our wider governance and objectives around the Internet of Mobility.

MaaS Alliances

Why are MaaS Alliances forming?

  • The key concept behind MaaS is to put the users, both travellers and goods, at the core of transport services, offering them tailor made mobility solutions based on their individual needs.
  • Easy access to the most appropriate transport mode or service will be included in a bundle of flexible travel service options for end users.

 

Scandinavian / Eastern Europe MaaS Alliances

  • A Scandinavian-led ‘MaaS Alliance’ of 20 European organisations was established in 2014/15 commited to work towards “a European-wide common approach to MaaS through public and private stakeholder cooperation”. Partners included Ericsson, ITS Finland/Sweden/Ukraine, National Mobile Payment Plc. (Hungary), Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Transport for London and Xerox.
  • This alliance is supporting ‘MaaS Finland’ who have an ambition of becoming the world’s first ‘true’ MaaS operator, which will involve launching services over 2016/17.
  • This initiative has been strongly supported by the Finnish Government, who have commenced a reform of their transport market, by bringing all legal provisions under one act (the Transport Code), aimed to make new market entry easier and promote interoperability between transport systems, that will enable ‘genuine service packages’ to meet rising consumer expectations.
  • In particular, the intention is for taxi transport licences to be made company-specific, while removing current constraints around vehicle license quotas. Of note is also their intention to remove requirements for driver-specific licencing.
  • Helsinki Transport Authority are also developing an Open Source Code Licencing approach to solution development. With this approach they have already collaborated with the Finnish Transport Agency to deploy a successful multi-modal real-time journey planner for Finland, with an in-house open-source development team.
  • This means that the ITS infrastructure they have developed is open for adaption for other cities across the world. As a result, cities such as New York, Oslo and Paris are already benefiting from the open source code developed.

 

German/United States MaaS Alliances

  • The United States were the first to deliver pilots of new ‘hybrid’ taxi/bus services, based around the private operation of 8-12 seater vehicles, that fall outside of the bus regulation powers of most cities, through Bridj in Boston in 2014 (now also launched pilots in Washington and Kansas City). This model was then copied by Uber (with Uberhop), that was piloted first in Chicago, Seattle over 2015 and was then launched earlier this year abroad in Toronto and Manilla (Phillipines).
  • Meanwhile, while other car manufacturers, such as BMW, have been making significant in-roads into the Car Club market. On the other hand, German Daimler Group have succeeded in launching the first Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) MaaS platform and app (Moovel) for the German cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart and the US cities of Austin and Portland.
  • This means that customers in Germany can now book their Car Club car (car2go/Flinkster), taxi (mytaxi) and rail journey (Deutsche Bahn) from one app. The focus of Moovel is to create a ‘platform of platforms’, but does not necessary tackle the issue of ‘true fares integration’.

 

UK MaaS Alliances

  • Transport Systems Catapult are about to release a research study they have completed on behalf of the Department for Transport on Mobility as a Service.
  • Transport for Greater Manchester and the Department for Transport have recently completed a collaborative feasibility study into the potential for Bridj/UberHop style 8-12 seater flexible transport solutions to play a role in a city such as Manchester, called Simply-Connect.
  • West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority recently commissioned transport consultancy Atkins Global to provide them with a detailed assessment of the potential for Mobility as a Service to transform service provision in Birmingham.
  • There is a Scottish MaaS alliance, centred around the powerhouse of Glasgow and tourist city of Edinburgh, which is currently focusing its efforts in working with interested US companies such as Xerox and IBM.