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Commercial Mobility as a Service in the West Midlands case study

21 February 2017  •  Author(s): Chris Lane, Head of Smart Travel at Transport for West Midlands and Director of Federated APIs, TravelSpirit

Commercial mobility as a service in the West Midlands case study

Credit: WMCA

The West Midlands has come a long way since its seven regional metropolitan local authorities launched their Statement of Intent in July 2015.

In just fifteen months we have seen the creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the agreement of an initial devolution deal with the UK government.

This deal, which can generate around £8 billion for investment over the coming two decades, will support our collective ambitions for economic growth and greater prosperity for the people of the region.

The WMCA has a number of priorities including public sector reform, housing, productivity, skills and mental health.

However, transport will be a cornerstone for the combined authority and will be a key power for the incoming metropolitan Mayor.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is the transport arm of the combined authority and is working towards the creation of an integrated public transport system that’s efficient, affordable, safe and secure.

TfWM works in partnership with private transport operators across the West Midlands under the ‘Network West Midlands’ brand to develop integrated information and ticketing that meets customer needs.

It also provides free fares for the elderly and disabled and pays for socially necessary bus services that are not financially viable for the private operators to run.

Developments in digital technology and intelligent systems are fundamentally changing mobility business models as well as consumer behaviour and expectation. 

The trend towards mobility as an on-demand, versatile, fast and easy service requires a blurring of public and private sector transport distinctions and the integration of transport modes. 

Mobility as a Service is having all your transport services when and where you need them with the goal of ultimately being better than owning your own car.

Mobility as a Service allows TfWM to address a number of significant challenges the West Midlands faces and how they might link into a new mobility solution.

These include network resilience with factors ranging from the disruption caused by the construction of the High Speed 2 rail link to supporting the development of the West Midlands as a centre and living lab for connected and autonomous vehicles.

Mobility as a Service encourages development of ‘beat the system incentives’ to improve customer experience and manage the peak loads on the transport network.

It is the provision of transport via a real-time personalised service model that integrates all types of mobility choices and presents them to the customer in a completely integrated manner to get them from A to B as easily as possible.

The pilot will be delivered over an 18 month period for to up to 500 customers based in the West Midlands.

It will provide them access, through their smartphone, to bus, metro and rail travel, car hire and car journeys and cycle hire. Other services will be added as the pilot progresses.

It will be delivered by a commercial provider, MaaS Global, utilising commercial transport services and facilitated by TfWM. 

A number of individual elements of Mobility as a Service such as smart ticketing and real-time passenger information have already been successfully delivered by TfWM but never as a holistic service. 

Proactively developing Mobility as a Service at scale will lead to improvements in both quality of life and productivity as travel becomes less time-consuming and unpredictable.

It will also facilitate access to work, public services and leisure, and at the same time create new opportunities and markets for local businesses.

Building on a successful Mobility as a Service pilot provides the potential to create an environment which will overcome the barriers to mobility.

Running the pilot in a region with the scale and diversity of the West Midlands creates an opportunity for other initiatives that exploit transport, technology, creative and engineering expertise to build a multi modal, personal travel service that is reactive to both user needs and wider network demand. 

An environment of this nature also helps build a knowledge-based economy with skills focused on research, development and testing, creating a global centre for intelligent mobility in the process.

The pilot can also serve as a platform for other mobility services catering for a broad range of differing customer and citizen demographics.

Mobility as a Service not only contributes directly to the West Midlands but can also support the wider UK economy by making the region even more attractive for both education, businesses, investors and visitors.

Whilst a pilot has been created it is not TfWM’s intention to see this as an exclusive deal with only the current partners able to operate Mobility as a Service.

To that end TfWM is working with TravelSpirit to look at making the eco-system as open and accessible as possible.

This will lead to an open market place for transport operators and Mobility as a Service providers allowing them enter the market with as few barriers as possible.

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