In recent years, the concept of providing Mobility as a Service (MaaS) has grown among rail operators: a total solution focused on the individual’s need to get from one point to another, as efficiently and comfortably as possible.
The adoption of intelligent and seamless transportation is becoming an integral part of the design and creation of cities. The smart mobility sector is forecast to double in the next five to seven years, and Australia is emerging as a leader in this field.
Rail Express speaks to Siemens Mobility ANZ Sales Manager Major Projects, Bülent Yilmaz, about why MaaS is more than just hype and a buzzword, and also the opportunities for Australia and New Zealand.
“An intermodal system combines intelligent journey planning, seamless integration of ticketing and booking as well as big data analytics combined in flexible, user friendly and secure apps,” he said.
“The technology can make it easy and convenient for all stakeholders (passengers and operators) to find their individual way through the mobility jungle and empowers the transformation of transport to efficient intermodal mobility – for the benefit of travellers and operators alike.
“New mobility offerings such as car sharing services, carpooling, e-scooter, and cycling are on the rise. Used smartly, they can make getting from point A to point B more efficient and sustainable.
“However, they bring about complexity for all stakeholders, including passengers, transit operators and municipalities. Passengers travel through a maze of transportation modes, apps and service providers when planning, booking and paying for their trip.
“This is where MaaS comes into play: smart MaaS applications can make it easy and convenient for passengers to find their individual way through the mobility chaotic mesh. Intelligent algorithms, seamless ticketing, integrated apps, and big data analytics make it possible.”
Yilmaz said for MaaS to be fully accepted, it was important to change the mindset of operators.
“The Australian rail industry is very mature and conservative by nature,” he said.
“What providers such as Siemens Mobility do is support operators to move from managing not just a rail service, but to becoming a mobility service provider that helps move people through various modes of transport to help them get to their destination in the quickest and most efficient way.
“In Australia, some states are more advanced than others when it comes to defining their transport strategy of the future: for example, NSW has a published a ‘Future Transport Strategy’ that provides a clear blueprint of what their plans including passenger intermodal systems to 2046.
“Other states are more conservative with a stronger focus on road compared to MaaS. When you compare that to Europe, for example, the mindset has evolved and changed in how people are moving from door to door, differently than what had been done traditionally.”
Yilmaz said MaaS, when used effectively, would help a person make the optimal choices for a commute: this could include stop using a car and take a train, tram, bus, e-scooter or combine them instead, helping them to better plan the journey from end to end.
MaaS platforms help make the most of the abundance of transport options that are available – for travellers, operators, businesses and cities alike – while also providing sustainable transport solutions.
And thanks to modular software, smart solutions can be implemented to integrate the various processes seamlessly: routing, ticketing, data, disruption and real time management as well as learning algorithms and mobility data analytics.
“With the apps, customers are able to, book travel, which they can change if needed, they’re able to cancel and see the entire journey from start to the end,” Yilmaz said.
“You can book a tram, a train, bicycle, e-scooter and possibly a share car that you drop off and leave, and then you walk to your destination.
“The apps let you pay for the travel, accept refunds, and essentially everything is done in a single offering, ultimately making it a positive experience for the user.”
Yilmaz said the key to MaaS expansion was its adoption by the users.
“While most of us are quite familiar with apps, at the same time we have to be mindful of individuals who are not tech-savvy. We still need to make sure that Mobility as a Service is for all, not limited to those just who are in the know,” he said.
“We need to make sure there is equity, that everyone has the opportunity to use it.”
MaaS ACROSS EUROPE
Siemens Mobility is one of the key players enabling MaaS transport in Europe, where integrated mobility is becoming commonplace.
As an example, in 2021 Siemens Mobility and NTT Data were awarded a five-year contract by Renfe, the national railway company of Spain, to develop and operate a countrywide, intelligent MaaS platform.
The comprehensive digital platform and its dōcō App has been live since December 2022, and has integrated various modes of shared and public transport, such as train, bicycle, metro, bus, car sharing, and scooter services, so passengers can easily identify and directly book the trip option that best meets their needs.
“Siemens is accompanying Renfe in its aspiration to transform from a rail operator to an enabler of seamless door-to-door mobility,” Yilmaz said.
“Our intermodal software platform and digital solutions will help deliver one of the world’s most ambitious MaaS projects, that has the potential to set new benchmarks.
“Siemens Mobility provides the core technology for the system, while the multinational consulting firm NTT Data supplies the system integration and support for the commercial operation, including the marketing and legal aspects.
“Siemens Mobility’s intermodal digital solutions are powered by its software subsidiaries Hacon, Sqills, eos.uptrade, Bytemark and Padam Mobility.”
Meanwhile, in nearby Netherlands, Siemens Mobility has implemented a country wide MaaS platform for the joint venture RiVier (NS, HTM and RET) to allow providers to integrate travel planning. The technological core of the MaaS platform is supplied by Siemens Mobility.
“Again these smart user friendly evolving applications can integrate and coordinate different modes of transportation to make the idea of seamless travel from the first mile to the last a reality,” Yilmaz said.
“Having the ability to choose from the full spectrum of mobility options to plan, schedule and pay for trips, significantly improves the travel experience and enhances overall quality of life.”
The Siemens Xcelerator platform is being developed as an open ecosystem that can be connected to existing apps from the MaaS providers NS, RET and HTM. The initiators call on other mobility providers to join so that traveling by public transport, bicycle sharing, car, scooter, and taxi, can be better connected and more convenient.
“Through the MaaS platform, mobility providers can draw attention to their services and better tailor them to the needs of passengers, while also optimising their fleet management,” Yilmaz said.
In addition to the comfort and hassle-free travel, perhaps the one of biggest benefits of MaaS is the impact it will have on the environment and sustainability, and increasing use of rail.
“As public transport or shared solutions become more attractive, travellers will only use their cars where it is of most added value to them, cutting down on emissions through sustainable solutions,” Yilmaz said.