MaaS Movement or Delusion

Jonathan Bray, director of the Urban Transport Group writing in Passenger Transport magazine explains that the much talked about Mobility as a Service has everything yet still to prove. There has been much hype and a few small scale niche projects. Successful MaaS depends on five main tests:

  1. Does it incentivise public transport use?
  2. Does it reduce congestion and pollution?
  3. Is there a culture of openness/data sharing?
  4. Is it socially inclusive?
  5. Does it encourage active lifestyles?

Transport Scotland are making much of their investment in MaaS but will this investment pass any or all of the above tests?


  • The vision of Scotland as a haven of cycle-friendliness has been hit by a double dose of realism.

    ScotRail’s cycle hire scheme is to be shut down after a slump in the number of passengers renting bikes. Bike & Go was launched in 2014 and operated 103 bikes at 12 ScotRail stations, including Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Haymarket. But it will be ditched at the end of September after scheme bosses Scotland confirmed it was “not self-sufficient”. Some cycling groups have said passengers preferred to take their own bikes on trains, rather than hire one. ScotRail’s Dutch operator Abellio had hoped the scheme could mirror bike collection programmes which have proved popular at stations in the Netherlands. However, it has now taken the decision to ditch the service at ScotRail stations and its other UK franchises on Merseyside and East Anglia.

    In a separate development Just Eat Cycles will close all 31 of its remaining “virtual stations” in Edinburgh, where users do not have to lock bikes to stands. The plans have been scrapped following unexpectedly high levels of vandalism. In addition to 100 of the 500 bikes being damaged, a further 50 have gone missing. Serco, which runs the scheme for Edinburgh City Council-run Transport for Edinburgh, said it had been forced to increase its mechanics from two to five to cope with the damage. Just Eat Cycles general manager Charles Graham said: “We have seen a lot of vandalism, which we were surprised by as it was at a higher rate than in London. The virtual stations were subject to abuse because the bikes were not secured to a physical dock. We do not think they are quite right for the city. Initially, people were trying to steal the bikes to use them, but that changed to wanton destruction – they were hit with hammers and cones. It’s quite depressing.”

  • Rural Transport Convention 2, Carnoustie, 9th October 2019

    Full of useful and practical presentations and with adequate time for Q & A, this year’s Rural Transport Convention started with Heather Cowan, head of Transport Strategy at the Scottish Government on NTS2, reminding us of its wide scope and that the more information fed back on NTS2, the more useful the document would be, including for example, the health advantages of active travel and the freight part of the strategy. The worrying decline in bus use also needs to be addressed. Why is this happening. Do we need a completely different model from the current one for buses? Not mentioned in the presentation but brought up last year was the requirement of some bus services for passengers to have the exact change. On its own I would have thought this would dramatically reduce bus use. Many years ago before I got my bus pass, I got on a bus with the wrong change and was refused transport even though I offered to pay more than the fare. People don’t forget being left at a bus stop with five miles to walk.

    Apathy kills many initiatives. Jackie Brierton, CEO of “GrowBiz” has conquered apathy, developing a successful local activity model in Perth and Kinross with the Leader program, wider than just business although many small businesses are involved. The program is built on the peer to peer model enabling peer learning, peer support, peer collaboration using, for instance, hot desking and bringing in other local organisations such as the branches of the Federation of Small Businesses and Chamber of Commerce.

    A set of six ten minute presentations on innovations in transport completed the morning sessions.

    In the afternoon we were kept well alert with workshops positing problems with possible solutions or ideas and finished up with a short presentation on Rural Growth from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry accompanied by an informative booklet.

    The evening dinner the night before was excellent and an opportunity to get to know some of the other delegates.

    The event was free including lunch and coffee but with information value better than many events that make a substantial charge, thanks to JLM (Jenny Milne) and Connected Places Catapult sponsorship and organisation. I look forward to attending next year.

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