The world's cities are rapidly becoming more densely populated. While this may be good for solving problems like urban sprawl, it comes at a cost: a higher concentration of residents brings increased traffic congestion.
It's a simple dynamic. As more people move into the cities, along come their cars. Many global municipalities are trying to minimise this trend by leveraging different incentives and systems to discourage the use of private automobiles. This effort is necessary as the infrastructure within most urban zones can't handle the traffic volume, even with upgrades.
Mobility as a service is one of the current era's most advanced solutions to this problem - and on-demand transport plays a key role in its effectiveness. But before we explore that, let's first dig into what MaaS is and does.
What is Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas)?
MaaS uses app-based software to provide all transit options in one place. With nothing but a smartphone, users can easily arrange for a variety of modes of travel. Typical transport types found in MaaS ecosystems include cabs, ride-hailing services, buses, train and rentals or sharing of cars and bikes. Once, these numerous transport service providers each required individual apps to use, but now they can all be gathered under a single platform.
The convenience of MaaS doesn't stop there. It goes further by incorporating trip planning capabilities and a seamless payment gateway as well. These features make a MaaS app an all-in-one tool for users to manage every aspect of their travel. They're free to choose the transport options that work best for them, based on everything from cost and commute time to pick-up and drop-off locations.
How On-Demand MaaS Services can Empower Mass Transit
Going where and when they are needed, on-demand services are one of the most flexible options within the MaaS catalog of transport modes. This agility fulfils the vital role that has been missing from traditional modes of mass transit.
Standard mass transit modes, such as city bus and train routes, adhere to set schedules, routes and stops. Such strict arrangements cause significant inefficiencies. The frequency of their trips are low, and the travel times are relatively long. Additionally, they can get very crowded during peak commute times (though they are often nearly empty during non-peak hours). It's for these reasons that many people find it more comfortable and expedient to travel by private car.
On-demand transit steps in to make up for these weaknesses. It can meet the dynamic needs of people whose travel times don't match up with the schedules of fixed mass transit, or aren't within high coverage areas. It can also appeal to travellers who would otherwise opt to use their own vehicles.
On-demand services don't have to operate as an alternative to traditional mass transport - the two can also work in tandem. By creating more access points to high capacity transport services, such as trains or bus rapid transit systems, on-demand can encourage greater use of existing networks.
As more passengers are gathered and distributed to these systems via on-demand transit, main transport lines can meet capacities and justify their operation and expense. Passengers can also be picked up from these transit hubs by on-demand upon arrival. In the past, meeting up with main transport lines often required other modes of transport that reduced the overall efficiency of the trip. On-demand services complete the circle, offering convenient "first-mile, last-mile" travel. The result is that standard public transport modes increase in utilisation, optimising their effectiveness (as well as the investments made in them). The superior user experience offered by on-demand options will encourage greater use of public transport and increase the number of citizens served.
These numerous positive effects provide excellent evidence that on-demand can be a solution to many of the transport-related issues agencies must tackle. But, to reap the benefits outlined above, private on-demand services need to work with public transport agencies to improve existing networks. Well-planned partnerships and integrations can work to increase the efficiency of a city's transportation system. These partnerships will enable cities to expand coverage, relieve roadway congestion, minimise individual vehicle usage and even reduce local carbon emissions.
On-Demand Transport Gives You a Taste of MaaS without Mess
Because it is an emerging technology, attempting to launch a full MaaS ecosystem at once can be quite an undertaking. With so many modes of transport aggregated into a single platform, the complexity can make it difficult for municipalities to launch a smooth and seamless service.
By integrating on-demand and mass transit modes with a single payment gateway, transport agencies can gain controlled insight to the complexities identified in pre-MaaS pilots. This will allow agencies to gain familiarity with implementing new systems within a scope that enables straightforward quality control and management.
Selecting the right partner for on-demand services is critical to launching a successful program. Liftango's on-demand transport platform provides the technology to schedule and manage a fleet of medium-capacity passenger vehicles. Our data-driven software is responsive to the unique demands of an area and its travelers, producing optimised operating costs and wider network coverage. It's the comprehensive solution cities need to kick off a strong and prosperous integrated on-demand service.