An app that tells you whether you should cycle to work or take the train. A self-driving car that picks you up in the morning. These are only two examples of what the future might look like, when we buy mobility as a service instead of buying train tickets or owning our own cars.
The telephone plings just as you are poised to pour your morning coffee and scroll through the daily news. It wants to let you know what your commute to work will look like today. Yesterday, you cycled and took the bus but today, as the traffic is lighter and the queues shorter, a car will be arriving to collect you at quarter past eight. This self-driving car will deliver you and three other commuters door-to-door, from home to work.
“In the future, your means of transport may vary from day to day, as you are able to use technology and smart algorithms – for example in an app – to suggest the optimal journey on that particular day in order to arrive quickly, cheaply and in an environmentally aware manner.”
So says Eilert Johansson, business and innovation manager for the mobility sector at RISE. He describes his vision of how we will travel in future. “In the future, we will buy our journey as a single service, rather than buying individual tickets for each stretch or using a private car that is only on the road for an hour or two each day and then stands parked. We will carpool more often and it will be simple to split a journey between different forms of transport. This may seem overly complicated compared to what we’re used to; however, with a smart travel app, even a long journey using several different means of transport is only a couple of quick clicks away.
It must be cheap and easy to choose environmentally-sustainable travel
Connecting different means of transport
Eilert Johansson believes that we are already on our way to a society in which mobility is a service.
“Many people use private leasing services instead of buying their own vehicle, which is a step in that direction. Another example is that some new cars come with an additional service that facilitates sharing the vehicle with friends and neighbours. Purely from a technical viewpoint, these cars have no key; instead, they are started via smartphone so that several people can have access to the same car.”
Many cities also have carpools and rental bicycles. However, in order to develop Mobility-as-a-Service, all cars, rental bicycles, carpools, public transport networks and future autonomous vehicles must be interconnected as a single coherent concept.
“This will be a complex puzzle, not only technically but also in terms of legislation, regulation, taxation and subsidies. It must be cheap and easy to choose environmentally-sustainable travel. We will also need new regulation and legislation that allows automated minibuses to collect you at home and drive you to the station or straight to work. All these changes will need to be implemented,” says Eilert Johansson, who believes that our car usage will be reduced when Mobility-as-a-Service becomes established.
“We can then reduce both our carbon dioxide emissions and congestion. Electric cars will reduce emissions fairly drastically but do nothing for traffic congestion. We therefore require more shared and smart services when we travel, so that the total number of vehicles can be reduced.”
The younger generation is more open
Change is required in the behaviour of the woman and man on the street if Mobility-as-a-Service is to become part of everyday life. We are used to owning our own vehicles and we are more than happy to travel alone in them.
“The younger generation is not yet set in this pattern of behaviour and may find it easier to accept the concept but it’s important that we make it attractive to older generations. I believe that we will come to choose Mobility-as-a-Service if we see that it benefits the climate and provides cheaper, quicker journeys. Who wouldn’t prefer to use time spent sitting in traffic for something else?”