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Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS): Need of the Hour for India

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Current Transportation Scenario in India

India is witnessing a rapidly growing urban population (590 million by 2030) and increasing motorization rate (55 million in 2001 to 196 million in 2016) fuelled by a healthy economic growth. We are reaching critical levels of demand supply gap of public transport (230 buses per million, required 600 buses per million), creating diminishing ridership in public transport (less than 20% people use public transport). All of these is contributing to heavy traffic congestion and high pollution levels in urban cities. India’s need for efficient and integrated public transportation systems, to reduce unsustainable number of personal vehicle on the roads, is more imminent than ever.

Government Initiatives to bridge demand supply gap

The above woes are pushing authorities to develop sustainable solutions, such as the Smart Cities Scheme or Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), which lay heavy focus on improving urban mobility and public transport systems. To meet these objectives, the government has considerably invested in mass transportation schemes such as metro rail, Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). However, such schemes keep operating independently and seldom integrate with each other.

Can Government keep investing on its own?

According to one estimate from World Bank, $500 bn investment will be required for upgrading Indian Transportation. Government smart cities project would possibly spend $10 bn only on transportation. An estimated $30 bn investment is planned for building metros in 24 cities. Such high spends cannot be catered by the government alone. We need an integrated mechanism that enables commuters to use public transport providing higher convenience, thus increasing the ridership in public transport, and hence the revenue for the government. The government, transport operators and service providers should all work together towards a sharing ecosystem. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is one such mechanism that will allow utilization of all modes keeping passenger in the center of things.

What is MaaS?

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offers access to different transport modes from a single platform such as an app. This allows travelers to pick the most personalized and streamlined way of getting around for any given journey. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) seamlessly integrates the first and last mile connectivity to supplement existing fragmented transportation systems.

MaaS creates a “Sharing ecosystem”

The basic idea is to provide a single solution and interface to all mobility needs.
  • Easily Everywhere
  • All trips with one payment
  • With any mode, anytime

Modes of transport included in MaaS

Building Blocks of MaaS

The key building blocks of MaaS are Infrastructure, Technology and Financial Transactions

Infrastructure

  • Data sharing platform and Secured Data Centre for storing collected data
  • Faster data transmission for dynamic journey planning

Technology

  • Integration of all transport modes and access through unified interface
  • Insights using data analytics and Real-time planning

Financial Transaction

  • Ticketless transactions – Use of Smart card/E-wallets
  • Unified Payment Interface – for interoperability of all payment systems

 

These building blocks in unison only will lead to a successful MaaS implementation as learned from global experiences of MaaS implementation.

While the opportunities for MaaS services are in abundance, is the ecosystem available in India?

The growing smartphone penetration – over 300 million users, expected to have 23% of CAGR through 2018, and rapid adoption of cashless payment systems should help boost the adoption of MaaS. Promotion of Intelligent Transport Systems in public transport will also play a critical role in adoption of MaaS.

What India needs are standards for these technologies to interact with each other. There has been limited government initiatives for standardization of Public Transport like, Urban Bus Specification (UBS-2) emphasizing on safety and convenience of the passenger. The government has recognized the need for driving standards. One such standard that will boost MaaS is AIS140 (Automotive Industry Standard) that will enable tracking of vehicles with standard devices.

Still a multi-modal standardized technology platform is missing, which would enable easy integration and ensure uniform quality of service.

The need of the hour is to leverage the on-going government initiatives and start planning a new framework that can develop a MaaS offering by providing data sharing platforms and adequate infrastructure for usage of 4G/5G services for real-time data transfer. One such example would be Traffic Demand Modelling – use of mobile network data to identify the mobility trends and using data for city planning. The MaaS offering would not be complete without an integrated payment interface across all modes of transport, enabling a ticketless traveling environment and ensuring secured payments. Government’s latest initiative under Digital India, Bharat Interface of Money (BHIM) – an Aadhar-based Mobile payment application, would serve as for a common platform for the Unified Payment Interface; if utilized by the Public transport authorities.

Global Example That India Can Refer: MaaS First on-demand mobility service in Finland

MaaS Global implemented the Mobility-as-a-Service concept by building the world’s first mobility ecosystem in Finland. MaaS Global aspires to improve the level of service in the transport sector by combining public and private transport services from brand-new cars to taxis, hire cars, trains, buses and city bikes. In MaaS, the authorities play the enabling role. The creation of Finnish transport code formed the foundation for the environment and atmosphere in which future services are produced. Provision for interoperability of tickets and payments system, facilitating data from all transport services to be made open were key reforms by the government.

On the other hand the MaaS provider: The Finnish Transport Agency’s task was to support the creation of a Finnish environment where it is possible to develop and launch safe, functional and profitable transport services. In practice, this includes participating in the drafting of national policies and strategies, investing in infrastructure, opening the Transport Agency’s data to service developers and offering expert advice on mobility services in development projects. Creating one price subscription model for citizens that can be used across modes using a mobility service app was another necessary step that was put in place. The MaaS Global example reaffirms that, the success of MaaS requires a collaborative effort from Government and Private Bodies.

Global Automotive Megatrends that will impact MaaS

Automotive, and hence the Mobility industry across the globe is under transformation. Two major mobility megatrends across the globe that will impact MaaS are, Electro Mobility: Use of technology enabled Electric vehicles for clean and comfortable transport at a lower cost and Autonomous Vehicles: driverless vehicles for more organized travel, lesser road accidents and increased use of shared vehicle.

While autonomous vehicles are still a distant reality for India, Electro mobility has started emerging with the government’s aim to make India, a 100% E-vehicle nation by 2030.

Honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi flagged off the ITS- powered smart electric bus, developed by KPIT.

Two ITS-powered electric buses are operating at the Indian Parliament.

While there have been initiatives, but a holistic approach would pave the way for adoption of MaaS

Solving the mobility challenge in India will require courageous and coordinated actions from private and public sector players alike. Equally important, commuters need to be informed about the benefits of MaaS, so that they become stakeholders in its successful implementation. It would be necessary to understand the concerns of the consumers and gauge their willingness to pay for such a service. Affordability of solution will make it attractive for the end consumer. This can be only achieved by revamping current transportation systems and use of Intelligent technologies, create smart and sustainable mobility solutions. The government should be transparent and should enable business-friendly policies for private operations and support innovation in the sector to create a win-win solution for citizens and industry stakeholders.

MaaS is not about disowning personal vehicles, it’s about having alternatives …..anytime!!!

Abbas Ravat

Director, Product Marketing, KPIT

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