The future of mobility services: realizing the vision
From active travel, such as cycle share schemes, to automated vehicles, commuter drones and completely new mobility business models, the way people move around is going through a period of acute transformation.
The UK Government has recently published its Urban Strategy for the Future of Mobility, which demonstrates the ambition and, in some cases, ongoing delivery of key outputs towards a more agile, interconnected and responsive mobility ecosystem.
We are also seeing other positive developments – for example:
- Establishment of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, a specialist body dedicated to leading on crucial innovation areas
- Recognition of the future of mobility as a grand challenge in the Industrial Strategy
- Allocation of formalized funding and support, such as the Automotive Sector Deal and the recently launched Rail Sector Deal
- Announcement of large-scale regulatory and policy reviews such as the Williams Rail Review.
While it is easy to appreciate the potential benefits of the future of mobility, it is hard to understand what a more mature version of it will look like. This is a challenge for industry actors, policy-makers and innovators alike, as it is difficult to know what explicitly to aim for.
To support the innovation momentum that is brewing in the transport sector, techUK has released its own vision for the future of mobility services in the UK:
“A digitally-enabled, interoperable, integrated and inclusive transport network that connects our citizens with multiple modes of transport services that can offer door-to-door convenience, respond to dynamic pressures and cater to the specified needs of the citizens within the locality.”
We know it’s not punchy, but every detail in our vision is there for a reason – because it can and should be considered as we look to deliver digitally-enabled mobility services.
Digital as enabler
The role that technology will play in the future of this country’s mobility services is undeniably integral. It has already started to fundamentally change the way we engage with mobility service providers and our expectations of service and capability. Digital technologies enable new ways of doing, including optimizing services, increasing automation, and facilitating multi-modal functioning.
Digital has already started to drive a step change in mindset across the sector, where we are putting the end user – the traveler – at the heart of our mobility services’ design. This is possible because digital enables more meaningful engagement with travelers.
Many mobility service providers understand the need to start building in better customer engagement – the “how” and “why” an individual user engages with their services. This is now crucial to the industry, since consumer satisfaction, as measured by the proportion of journeys rated by passengers as satisfactory in terms of value for money, has been the lowest since 2008. For example, the legacy “ticket mindset” no longer serves the sector amidst a rapid shift towards digitalization, and the strict regulation underpinning ticketing is stifling the emergence of new ways of managing journeys and payments in mobility services.
Setting the direction of travel
These changes won’t happen simply as technology evolves. We have seen how innovation in bus services has been restricted in London, how user behavior and pushback has thwarted bike share systems in Manchester, how uncertainty about the law regarding e-scooters has hindered adoption. Industry needs to come together and work with Government to help them understand changes and where regulation can be a positive shaping force, rather than a hindrance.
Looking into our crystal ball, there are a few key milestones that will need to be reached to supercharge the shift to the future of mobility services. Firstly, we have already seen positive direction from the Government. We believe that the Future of Mobility strategy helps to provide assurance to the market, which techUK has advocated for in our Future Mobility Services in the UK report. It brings forward principles for the future of urban mobility; and it encapsulates pedestrians, cyclists, freight, and both public and private transport.
As well as overarching principles, the strategy has set out some key outcomes that Government wants to deliver. It is now fundamental that Government continues to give the private sector assurances about what can be brought to market and offer the same decisive direction to local bodies. With a clear and informed strategy in place, we should not have to wait long to see the full power of digital transformation reshape our mobility environment for the better
Digital Vision for Mobility
This article is part of the Atos Digital Vision for Mobility opinion paper. We explore opportunities and challenges for transport and logistics providers in this rapidly evolving space, where transport and logistics are leading other markets in digital transformation.