Padam Mobility gives the floor to its technological partner Kisio Digital through its Communication Director, Bertrand Billoud, who shares some thoughts on Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS).
What would be Kisio Digital’s added value in a MaaS approach?
Bertrand Billoud (BB): The main technological contribution of Kisio Digital in the development of regional, national or urban MaaS is based on our Navitia traveller information system. Multimodal / intermodal traveller information is the core of our expertise on more and more modes of transport. We are a MaaS enabler. We rarely talk about user data for digital platforms, even though usage and the voice of the user are one of the main challenges of MaaS. If we engage in a MaaS logic, usage must drive innovation and continuous improvement of digital services.
Our white paper argues for a solidarity-based MaaS that should be closer to the territories to position itself as a catalyst for mobility offers, even for the most vulnerable populations. How can the development of intermodal logics benefit the less densely populated areas?
BB: What is very interesting about MaaS is that it raises the question of the purpose, the objectives that we set and the resources that we mobilise to meet the social, economic and ecological challenges of a territory in terms of mobility. What do we want to do with MaaS? Do we want to limit car congestion, facilitate mobility for People with Reduced Mobility, boost tourism or alternative modes of transport…? Depending on the context, the chosen solution will be different. The offer must be adapted to the different challenges faced by the territories.
The priorities set by political decision-makers determine the direction of MaaS. Imposing transport modes that are totally disconnected from realities is not the right solution. On this point, I believe we are aligned with Padam Mobility in the sense that we consider that the integration of mobility solutions must be done in a way to answer specific local issues such as unequal access to transport services in low-density areas.
Is MaaS the right solution for peri-urban or rural areas?
BB: It depends on the local context. We have to realise that digital tools are not the solution to each society’s problems, especially in the mobility industry. Producing digital tools is a good thing on paper. Nevertheless, it requires a significant communication and marketing work to develop the audience and the uses by the citizens. We have to make it known, otherwise we have lost the battle of uses. Design a useful product? Yes, but the most important thing is to design a product that is used by the greatest number of people.
We must also keep in mind that the human aspect is essential and not always rely solely on digital tools. This is also sometimes what we try to put forward at Kisio Digital. Finally, uses evolve. Commuting five days a week is not anymore the reference. That’s why MaaS needs to cover the territory with points of interest, intermodal hubs and also third places, and take into account our lifestyles.
In large cities, the mobility offer tends to be more and more individualised with shared modes that are certainly expensive and less sustainable than they are said to be (electric scooters, e-bikes, car rental). How can MaaS fit into these dynamics and influence virtuous behaviours in urban and suburban areas?
BB: The mobility sector is political. If MaaS can influence virtuous behaviours, these will correspond to modes that the Public Transport Authority (PTA) considers virtuous. This can be cycling, mass transit, or carpooling depending on the context. In any case, it is important to be aware that all forms of mobility have an ecological impact, with the exception of walking and mechanical cycling, and it is important to limit this impact. Digital services (algorithms, data) can answer different issues (social, economic and environmental), simplify our life, but it will not be enough. I think that as citizens, we also have a role to play in reducing the impact of our mobility. And in the current context, with the development of working from home and videoconferencing, non-mobility is also part of this equation, which we could call the mobility mix.
To encourage virtuous behaviour, MaaS can’t be radical. MaaS must encourage what is called the “mobility mix”, i.e. the use of different modes of transport depending on the context. In concrete terms, in some areas, it is inconceivable to do without the car. The car can still play an important role in transportation, provided that it is combined with gentler, more shared modes of transport and that other uses of the car, such as carpooling, are encouraged. For example, opening up the road traffic data would make it possible to better understand usage and improve intermodal services. Or offering, when relevant, a parking solution in a mobility hub and a feeder to the public transport network.
The issue of MaaS brings together a wide range of actors and raises the question of the governance. Taking into consideration the social and environmental role of MaaS, what would be its ideal form of governance? Who are the most appropriate actors to develop, control and integrate?
BB: It is precisely this diversity of players that should make MaaS strong. Serviced mobility must be a common issue that requires strong cooperation. Cooperation between public and private operators, industrial players such as Kisio Digital or Padam Mobility, but also associations that encourage virtuous behavior in terms of mobility. MaaS requires alliances and it is the PTA that must be the orchestrator. Establishing the rules of the game, controlling the players and the offers is a necessity. The public space cannot give in to the anarchy of mobility offers. A trusted third party is absolutely essential to ensure that our data does not end up in opaque systems that favour one mode over another.
This has to be done in good intelligence and requires that everyone focus on their core business. For Kisio Digital, this is traveller information. We need to find alliances and partnerships rather than trying to do everything alone. There are these notions of shared ressources and cooperation that must be the driving force behind service mobility and digital sovereignty. As an example, our Navitia solution is open source: it’s a way of pooling resources and expenses and agreeing on a roadmap, with a view to continuous improvement.
In concrete terms, to what extent do companies like Kisio Digital or Padam Mobility that offer white-label services act as MaaS enablers?
BB: We are mainly in contact with public players under public service contracts to help them improve their services to travellers. We attach a lot of importance to the idea of improving the ” comfort ” or the quality of travel during a trip. This is a vision that we share with Padam Mobility. The idea of being able to use a reliable transport service in which one can have a seat, such as Demand-Responsive Transport or other public transport, contributes to the well-being of the users.
Like you, we define ourselves as MaaS enablers. At our level, mainly on passenger information. We have more added value in doing traveller information well than in trying to do everything. We also try to make people understand the value and importance of public power to contribute to the well-being of mobility service users. This can be illustrated by the example of Transport for London (TfL). Last summer, the London Transport Authority released its official application that focuses on services for people with disabilities. Private players who operate MaaS services or offer B2C mobility applications do not necessarily treat this kind of subject as a priority. We have to do this when we support public players. The digital solutions we offer as white-labels are part of a general interest and public service logic. This is also part of what makes us different from other MaaS operators.
Kisio Digital, Keolis Group’s digital subsidiary, offers the Navitia traveller information platform. It receives more than 8 billion requests per year and allows it to operate on a multitude of local systems integrating multimodal (comparison of modes), intermodal (combination of modes), door-to-door and real-time itinerary search. The company is also a major player in the management and quality control of mobility data in order to provide the most reliable traveller information. As Padam Mobility, its main clients in the framework of MaaS projects are Public Transport Authorities (PTA) such as Île-de-France Mobilités in Paris and SYTRAL in Lyon but also other actors such as SNCF (French National Railway Company), Keolis or Mappy networks for example.
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