Open mobility – without cooperation we’re going nowhere fast

After the Open Mobility Conference TravelSpirit publishes city and industry case studies to facilitate open collaborative mobility.

Use the link below or #Open Mobility to navigate the case studies.

Why publish these now?

Technology already exists to make it possible for people to have a single transport account enabling them to use the train, hire an e-scooter, access a self-driving pod, book travel insurance and take a flight. However, the reality is that we’re not seeing this happening on any kind of scale in the world today.

Last month, TravelSpirit and MaaS Alliance hosted a conference on Open Mobility at KANAL, a former Citroën car factory turned art gallery, in a regeneration zone of Brussels. It was an exciting event that brought together diverse voices in the mobility sphere – from Amsterdam City Authorities to International Air Transport Association, IATA, investment fund SGInnovate, and Porsche. But the simple message was that whilst technology exists that can enable a truly simple, open and seamless multi-modal transport – the mobility as a service that could replace the personal car – it will only reach its potential if the industry becomes much more open and collaborative.

TravelSpirit believes that business models will need to become much more collaborative – with a diverse mix of operators including automakers, bus companies, taxis, bike share and trains working more closely with cities so that the best use of our streets is determined by the public interest, not the most aggressive business model or the one with the deepest pockets.

“Currently we are seeing that, at one end of the spectrum, some companies are calling for new thinking from policy makers and corporate leaders  – with businesses like Europcar looking forward to a completely open transport system, or “mobility as a service” bringing economic benefits to cities in a sustainable way. Whilst at the other, some companies work in silos, annexing their part of people’s journeys or attempting to keep them within their service group for multimodal trips.” According to TravelSpirit Chairman, Simon Herko.

“At the broadest level, we have been debating how to restructure the entire transport industry, to become a lot more “open” in its approach to satisfying growing consumer expectations for transport options that are more flexible, easy to consume and that can be bundled into a single customer offer or subscription-based service. 

This involves traditional transport companies being prepared to open-up to competition and accept they don’t own the complete customer journey and/or travel requirements of a customer over the course of a year. It also requires industry silos such as airline, public transport, tech platforms, to better interface and collaborate with each other for the benefit of the customer. 

This is a controversial stand-point, given the context of existing automotive firms and public transport companies feeling threatened by the new tech-platforms (aka Uber, Mobike, Google etc etc) and the implied “winner takes all” race that is being foreseen as we move into an autonomous vehicle future.”

At TravelSpirit, we believe that we need to reconfigure the transport space. An ‘if it uses public roads (and rails) it should be open’ attitude would go some way to developing open mobility. But cities too need to be able to see how the roads (and often rails) they build and maintain are used. Mobility providers need to share usage data with cities in return for public authorities to be sure that the infrastructure they provide is being used efficiently and beneficially.

It’s a drawn out process, with many stages and patchy adoption. The important lesson is that cities, public authorities, private innovators and transport operators all need to share their experience. This is a complex transition which will require collaboration and negotiation. The more information and case studies we have to inform the debate the better.

Case studies from the Open Mobility Conference here:

Cities for Open Mobility: Singapore – investment and innovation

Cities for Open Mobility: Antwerp – the open ecosystem

Cities for Open Mobility: London – open live transport data

Cities for Open Mobility: Los Angeles – data for access and the MDS

Cities for Open Mobility: Helsinki – the open data law

Standards for Open Mobility: New Distribution Capability

Standards for Open Mobility: Minimum Interoperability Mechanisms

Companies for Open Mobility: Europcar

Companies for Open Mobility: Skedgo

Companies for Open Mobility: Tranzer