Revolutionising Transportation: How can Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Enable Travel Behaviour Change?

Tim Strong
Transport Innovation Director, Arcadis

While transport plays a vital role in connecting people and places, it also contributes significantly to the climate crisis, impacts air quality, exacerbates congestion, perpetuates inequality and limits access to essential opportunities.

Road transport generates almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emitted in the UK.

There are two main ways to tackle this, both of which require radical changes:

1. Firstly, changes to the fuels we use to power our vehicles, enabling the shift to electric and hydrogen.

2. Secondly, to change the way we use transport, the choices of when and how we travel, and reducing our reliance on owning a car.

This isn’t going to be easy. But, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) has the potential to help create this behaviour change.

MaaS as part of the solution

MaaS provides access to public transport and shared mobility in a single app, making it possible to plan, reserve, book and pay for a journey using all these forms of mobility.

Arcadis sees great potential for MaaS to make it easier for people to make more sustainable travel choices, in line with our strategy ‘accelerating a planet positive future’. This is why we are contributing to flagship MaaS implementations in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and the West Midlands; building on our work supporting MaaS in Amsterdam.

Why this roundtable discussion?

It is still early days for MaaS, especially in the UK. This roundtable brought together experts from across the transport industry, with behavioural scientists, to share their experiences and lessons learned. The key question being – what can we learn from MaaS implementations and other behaviour change learning from across transport and different industries, which could be applied to MaaS?

Several key themes emerged throughout the discussion, such as, the essential need to understand customers when designing MaaS solutions, the importance of strong marketing campaigns, incorporating transport user personas and the significant role of behaviour change specialists.

What’s more, we must also improve our ability to roll-out existing technologies at greater pace, like contactless payments.

However, large scale MaaS implementations in the UK are in their infancy. Only once we have the right MaaS solutions in place and adopted by users at scale, can they be used to encourage behaviour change. As a result, the time for planning the behaviour change interventions is now.

Framing the discussion

August 2023 saw the release of the UK Government’s MaaS Code of Practice (CoP), voluntary guidance with 34 recommendations, covering technical and regulatory advice. It states that “MaaS has the potential to help the UK meet its decarbonisation and net zero ambitions”.

Our roundtable participants identified what recommendations they would include in the CoP in a hypothetical new section focussed on ‘MaaS as an enabler for behaviour change’, to help the UK meet its decarbonisation and net zero targets.

MaaS CoP recommendations

These recommendations reflect the insights and lessons learned shared during the discussion, focussing on leadership, skills, design and deployment.

1. MaaS is a “positive disruptor”, meaning MaaS implementations need a clear unifying vision and strong leadership.

2. MaaS is new, and so, local authorities procuring MaaS solutions need support to develop new skills and new forms of contracts.

3. Involve behaviour change specialists in MaaS deployment projects from the beginning – behaviour change and marketing are key workstreams which should be properly resourced and funded from the outset.

4. Use MaaS to simplify everything for customers to increase adoption. Simply fares, remove the hassle of navigating complex systems, improve interoperability.

5. Focus on large employers as influencers and early adopters for MaaS as they have great potential to implement MaaS and create travel behaviour change for their employees.

6. Introduce MaaS alongside ticketing for sporting events and concerts as a way to secure new users.

Time for action

Transport is a major cause of the climate crisis, poor air quality, congestion, inequality, and lack of access to opportunity. Therefore, we must act.

Behaviour change isn’t easy but is vital. In a similar way, technology deployment is not easy but is an essential enabler for behaviour change. Fortunately, we have the expertise and leadership in the UK to make MaaS a success. If we get it right, it becomes easier for people to make more sustainable travel choices, and as a result reduce car traffic and improve the planet for generations to come.

Roundtable participants

With thanks to Meeting of Minds and the Interchange Conference for creating the space for the roundtable conversation to take place.

With thanks to our roundtable participants, for bringing the insights and ‘daring to dream’ of a MaaS enabled future.

Individual  Organisation Role
 Ross Basnett FOD Group Strategic Account Director 
 James Bullen Transport for West Midlands MaaS Product Manager
 Hannah Byk BetterPoints Partnership Manager
 Oz Choudry Enterprise Car Club Head of Mobility Solutions UK&I
 Lee Davison Worldline Senior Business Development Lead – Transport Mobility UK&I
 Rachel Edwards Hollin Behavioural Management Consultant
 Vernon Everitt Greater Manchester Transport Commissioner
 Steve Howes Steve Howes ConsultingManging Director
 Ranald Robertson HITRANS Chief Officer & Partnership Director
 Alexander Roy Manchester Airport Group Head of Policy
 Alistair Ryder National Highways Active Travel and Travel Demand Management Team Leader
 Sarah Sharples Department for Transport Chief Scientific Advisor
 Max Sugarman ITS (UK) Chief Executive
 Declan Whelan GBR Transition Team Director of Fares Strategy

This article was originally posted on Arcadis’ website, available here.