We have been working with Transport for Greater Manchester for several months on a fascinating idea; an open source community for a Mobility-as-a-Service platform. The idea has finally emerged into the daylight as the TravelSpirit community. You are invited to apply to attend the launch event and take a part pioneering public transport for the 21st century.
What is Mobility-as-a-Service? We’re all familiar with traditional public transport services, providing mass transit on fixed routes on a predictable schedule at an affordable price. We’re increasingly familiar with flexible modes of transport, like bike sharing, and privately-managed transport, like Uber. There are so many options that trip planners have now become a software category in their own right.
The problem with all these options is, while there is plenty of choice, your mobility remains your problem. You can opt for single-mode journeys at high cost or high effort, or for multi-mode journeys that you have to manage yourself — something harder if you’re unfamiliar with local transport rules.
Mobility-as-a-Service is the idea of having a service take responsibility for your journey. A service would check where you are, ask where you want to go, offer costed alternatives and then schedule, ticket and deliver the journey to you. If there were delays, the service would dynamically reroute you. The service would offer a mix of modes – maybe a taxi to a bus stop, then a bus to a train station – and let you tailor the mix to your needs and budget.
TravelSpirit has some big ideas already on how to do this, but is looking for collaborators. There’s going to be a big commercial opportunity as well as a large role for volunteers and enthusiasts. While the early deployments from TravelSpirit are likely to be in Manchester, you don’t need to be local, so take a look at the competition and join in with us!