MaaS in Australia: Lessons from SkedGo
Regardless of the local mobility culture, mobility-as-a-service aims to bring convenience to integrate different transportation options together for a seamless multi-modal trip. SkedGo highlights the opportunities and challenges for shared mobility in Australia.
Mobility-as-a-Service, commonly referred to as MaaS, connects people with a network of transportation options, from public transit to shared mobility services. MaaS has a lot of potential, and cities and operators are still in the early phases of adopting MaaS on a larger scale.
In this “lessons from” edition, we interview John Nuutinen, CEO of SkedGo. SkedGo enables corporations, transit agencies, and cities to create their own MaaS app with their white-label solution. As an active member of MaaS Alliance, SkedGo is paving the way for more environmentally-friendly trips in cities worldwide.
What trends do you see in the mobility space?
The mega trends we have observed are:
- Growing urban populations
- Challenges to increase city infrastructure (budgets and physical space limitations)
- Congestion and pollution challenges
- Emergence of autonomous vehicles
- Large multi-nationals (i.e. Silicon Valley firms influencing cities’ mobility mix)
- Mobility wallets – allowing for payment of all transport modes
- Mobility-as-a-Service providing cities with regulatory levers
Transit agencies are beginning to see MaaS as a way to enrich their commuter’s travel experiences and as a way to maintain contact with commuters from door-to-door, rather than only seeing snapshots as they get on or off public transit. Data collected through a MaaS platform provides transit agencies with valuable information to make informed decisions about asset allocation, timetables, and pricing, which in turn helps create a more effective and efficient transportation system.
In addition, cities and governments have a mandate to reduce carbon emissions and congestion, which is beneficial for their constituents. MaaS provides a mechanism to change user behavior for the better. Cities and governments often want to have regulatory oversight over their entire mobility landscape to help them get the best from their infrastructure and influence the liveability of their city and region.
Finally, SkedGo believes that corporate MaaS will play an important role in the future of mobility. This is where we will see significant investment into new development and commercial models. An incremental change in user behaviour will have a direct impact on the bottom line for corporate entities.
The commonality of these markets is that they aim to affect behavioural change and as a result, we will see increased effort in delivering an improved, standardized, and quantifiable service.
What does the shared mobility market look like in Australia?
We are a global business, so our perspective is influenced by what we see happening around the rest of the world. Australia has a vibrant MaaS ecosystem. Australians have long been considered a society of early adopters, so the community is open to new ideas. The two primary drivers in establishing MaaS in Australia are a number of progressive transit agencies and the emergence of corporate mobility. The debate about MaaS and its validation has been won.
The sharing economy has also validated and enabled MaaS to a certain degree. It has established a precedent which has seen the increase in shared assets and services extend to motor vehicles, bicycles, and other modes of transport. In Australia, a number of carsharing services, such as Car Next Door, have been successfully serving a growing customer base for years.
What is the opportunity for micromobility (scooter, mopeds, e-bikes) in Australia?
We believe that micromobility, globally, will play a significant role in delivering the promise of MaaS. Micromobility overcomes the first and last mile challenges within high density areas such as cities, but the propagation of assets such as scooters, bicycles, and mopeds may take a little longer because of the economics. In Australia, we have seen an increase in city-based micromobility options for commuters, but the regulatory and compliance requirements relating to health and safety have somewhat raised the barrier to entry.
What are the tech challenges in MaaS?
Transportation is becoming more real-time oriented rather than being planned in advance, based on static information. This means everything we do needs to work with ever-changing conditions. This is a challenge we enjoy working on. One issue is the algorithmic and data handling side: we need to make sure our systems can work with real-time information and presented in a simple way in the user interface. Users want to be updated of changes in their trips automatically and not have to check the app for updates every few minutes. This means our system needs to permanently monitor which real-time changes can affect which user to provide them with the right information at the right moment.
What makes SkedGo unique?
As a business-to-business MaaS enabler, SkedGo delivers preference-based, door-to-door, multi-modal trip itineraries, which integrate local transport service providers and proprietary-enriched data. This delivers a ‘localized’ and ‘contextual’ user experience. Each installation, regardless of which city or what market it serves, is unique to the host because we configure and customize the features and functionality according to their needs – while still retaining a modular, scalable solution.
We are also very fast to market with new innovations. We were the first MaaS platform to offer fully multi and mixed modal routing, emissions-based routing, routing for people with reduced mobility and recently – with COVID-19 – occupancy features.
What advice do you have for new shared mobility start-ups in Australia?
Australia provides a vibrant MaaS ecosystem and an ideal test market for mobility aspirants. The challenge in a market the size of Australia is that a volume-based commercial model may be hard to sustain. However, with an audience of early adopters and all the other ingredients already baked into existing ecosystems, there are opportunities to experiment with different monetization models. Over the next 12 months, I think we will see some exciting and revolutionary MaaS models emerge in the Australian market.