In 2004, üstra invented one of the world’s first platforms for integrating different mobility services. The world has changed a lot since then.
Hannovermobil was the first of its kind : a platform that integrated different mobility options in the city. It combined traditional public transport with taxis, bike services, car-hire, car-sharing and a luggage service, all in one platform. It was a pioneering piece of innovation, and smartphone or not, it was a smart solution to a city problem.
Although the per capita results were excellent - 50% of the customers gave up their private car – there were only 1,300 sign-ups. After some analysis, its designers found that one of its biggest drawbacks was its lack of flexibility. Other problems included the fact that it didn’t keep up with the new technology that was coming on the market, as well as the fact that car-sharing, a core feature of the package, was still a niche product. Hence, it was not a ‘must-have’ for customers as the service offered did not address all customer needs. In addition, there were too many complex access barriers. Fast forward a few years later, and üstra is giving its pioneering platform a reboot. "One of the basic problems when we brought out this product was that the pilot product was limited to a certain audience and could not be adapted. The market wasn’t ready,” says Martin Roehrleef, the platform’s inventor. "But now it seems to be the right time for a new ‘transport-as-a-service’ approach".
üstra will relaunch “Hannovermobil 2.0” by adopting a new approach boosted by trends such as mobile technology, the sharing economy, changing lifestyles and the end of the oil age. Hannovermobil 2.0 will follow a much more flexible philosophy, following the Mc Donald’s approach where customers can self-customise their mobility menu. It will feature an online one-stop-mobility shop integrating e-ticketing and multimodal trip planning.
"Talking about Smart cities – it is simply not smart to have so much car traffic and so much space dedicated to parking in our streets." Martin points out that private car ownership is a great barrier to a more flexible, multimodal and less car-oriented behaviour. "When one has a private car it seems the cheapest and most strategic option and it is hard to get people to give it up". The big game changer, as far as he is concerned, is the advent of smartphones, as well as the general digitisation of our lives. Mega-trends are boosting combined mobility. Changing values, mobile devices and the end of the oil age are pushing operators and users to reconsider the applications of public transport. “People are growing used to using services rather than owning a car,” he says.
There were many lessons learned from the project in Hannover in 2004. Public transport must take advantage of them and must become a key integrator for the new mobility services of the future.
- Martin Roehrleef is Head of Staff, Division Combined Mobility, üsstra. His presentation titled 'Hannovermobiil, 10 years later. Lessons learned and a new approach' is available to UITP members in Mobi+.
- For more information contact editor(at)uitp.org