Investments in data platforms and the Internet of Things will be crucial to achieving New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance’s vision for Mobility as a Service (MaaS) transport.
A transport system that “enables customers to plan and pay for their journeys using a range of services via a single customer interface” forms part of state’s 40-year transport infrastructure plan – detailed in the Draft Future Transport Strategy 2056 released on 22 October 2017.
As well as real-time data management and GPS tracking technologies, such a system is likely to require convenient payment methods and a portal for customers to “book, pay for, plan, give feedback and access real time information” as they travel.
The bigger picture
Building on the 2012 Long Term Transport Master Plan, the draft strategy continues the recent drive towards personalised travel experience in NSW. In July 2017, TfNSW published an Expression of Interest (EOI) seeking partners to build a one-stop-shop transport portal – dubbed ‘My Transport Identity’ – that links up Opal accounts, Twitter feeds, “on demand services”, and other transport-related services to streamline access to frequently travelled routes and other individualised settings.
According to the draft strategy, MaaS models are already in use in some countries, including Finland and Sweden. In both countries, the model has had a positive impact on public transport use, seeing an increase of patronage by 9 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
NSW's progress in on-demand public transport includes a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI) in December 2016, calling on industry and tech leaders interested in conducting trials. The first eight pilots were launched across the state in August 2017.
Although the strategy acknowledges that customers and markets “ultimately determine whether a technology is widely used”, governments also “play a key role in enabling the use of new technology, through regulation, service provision, and collaboration with the community, private sector and universities, and in regulating appropriately for safety and public interest.”
Under the MaaS model, “private operators can sell integrated end-to-end journeys to customers that include multiple transport modes".
It will involve real-time sharing of data – most likely via an app – to allow customers to plan and choose from different modes of transport, such as travelling by public transport, rideshare or bike hire. The app would then guide them through their end-to-end journey to ensure the most efficient travel experience – for example, by alerting users of scheduling delays, road congestions and roadworks.
It will leverage and “[e]xpand open data and data exchange initiatives”, such as the Open Data Hub – which includes de-personalised Opal travel pattern data and real-time train, bus, ferry and light rail information – “to improve customisation of services and journey planning across providers”.
The heavy reliance on data sharing is also likely to bring attention to cybersecurity and data protection requirements.
Implementation of the MaaS model is listed as “for investigation” in the next 10 years. The strategy is open for public feedback and will be finalised early 2018.