A study analyses the application of the new “Mobility as a Service” paradigm in Catalonia

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The UPC has worked with various mobility entities to draw up the study Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in Catalonia: Challenges and Opportunities, which explores the viability of a new mobility ecosystem in cities based on the integration of various services. The study, which proposes more efficient, accessible, inclusive and sustainable mobility, was presented on 30 November in Barcelona.

Over the last year, various mobility entities in Catalonia, such as Autopistas, Abertis Mobility Services (AMS), which are companies in the Abertis group, Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB), CARNET, RACC, Saba, Banc Sabadell and SEAT S.A., have worked together to draw up a study that analyses the application in Catalonia of the concept of ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS). The study was carried out by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) and the consultancy company FACTUAL. At the UPC, it was directed by Miquel Estrada, a specialist in mobility and lecturer in the (ETSECCPB).

The presentation of the studyMobility as a Service (MaaS) in Catalonia: Challenges and Opportunities took place on 30 November, in the modernist complex of the Hospital de Sant Pau, in Barcelona, with the participation of representatives of collaborating entities and a special guest from the MaaS Alliance (an international entity for studying and promoting MaaS).

The study analyses the state of art of MaaS, through a comprehensive revision of the existing literature and the organisation of work, debate and co-creation sessions with various experts in the local, national and international world. The opening of mobility data and the integration of the processes involved (reservation, access, payment and user management), as well as efficient public-private collaboration are identified as vectors of opportunity for the development of MaaS in Catalonia.

Effective solution to mobility problems in cities

For years, MaaS or Mobility as a Service has been on the agenda of European countries. The first systems to become well known were developed in northern Europe. MaaS has gradually become a synonym of the solution to mobility problems in cities. The expectations have become very high: more efficient mobility that is accessible, inclusive and sustainable, and could become a real alternative to private vehicles and an attractive, viable proposal that is user-centred. Over the last decade, a set of circumstances have arisen that are favourable to the development of a new mobility ecosystem.

A unanimous definition of MaaS has still not been reached, but it could be described as integrated access to various mobility services (public and private) through a digital application. This integrated access is translated into the fact thatthe user can plan, pay and obtain a multimodal transport ticket through just one intermediary. Therefore, it is a way of being able to bring together a large number of applications that tend to have users on their telephones and connect them in one place.

Shared mobility has arrived in Catalonia to stay

In the Catalonia of 2021, the dichotomy between cars and public transport has become obsolete. We have a wide range of mobility options that show how shared mobility has come to stay. In cities, the use of bicycles, scooters, motorbikes and shared cars has increased, as well as transport on demand options. In addition, the new generations have developed climate awareness and a preference for flexibility (changing ownership for access). An increasingly smaller number of young people pass their driving test at 18. In addition, digitalisation of all everyday activities has affected mobility and helps to achieve innovative solutions such as MaaS. The technological, socials and market changes in mobility have been catapulted by the pandemic, which has accelerated the need to adapt transport offerings to the context of the new normality.

Currently, MaaS is on the agenda of all Catalan administrations, but it is still in early stages of development. Regarding governance, the study reached the conclusion that a balance must be found between public and private sectors. Public bodies must ensure the right to mobility for everyone in a sustainable way, reducing negative externalities, through the development of a suitable framework of action. At the same time, this framework must enable the development of new business models, promoted by private agents who participate in the new game board of mobility.

The study proposes the creation of a MaaS forum in Catalonia, as an open space for reference and a regular meeting place for the MaaS ecosystem. The aims of this forum are to promote various driving projects:

  • Definition of the Catalan strategic agenda for rolling out MaaS
  • Periodic updating of the maturity index of MaaS, as well as maps summarising MaaS initiatives and the shared mobility applications that operate in Catalonia.
  • Cooperation and dialogue with other economic and technological mobility hubs and forums in Spain and internationally, to share information and knowledge and carry out continuous benchmarking of the most relevant MaaS initiatives.
  • The organisation of working groups into thematic blocks to discuss and generate reports on key issues for MaaS such as governance, business models, the legal framework, data management, technological architecture, etc.
  • The promotion of a national programme of pilot tests of MaaS in a framework of public-private collaboration that examines the various challenges identified in the study under real conditions.
  • Undertaking monographic studies on the strategy of open access and management of data and micro-subsidies to promote sustainable mobility.

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