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One application for the European market that combines all transport modes and enables passengers to buy one ticket for their entire journey, even when using different modes: this is what the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking is working on. Now, one of its projects, Shift2MaaS, kicked off its pilots testing the technologies aiming to advance the uptake of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in Europe.
In a world that is increasingly connected and tech-savy, passengers more than ever expect a mobility offer that integrates different modes of transport, is tailored to their lifestyle, and creates a seamless door-to-door journey. This is what Shift2Rail wants to achieve with its Innovation Programme 4, or IP4. IP4 focuses on improving information technology and cross-industry collaboration to provide passengers with a smart and personalised application for journey information and ticket purchase, together with entertainment and other communication services.
Under IP4, different research projects work together to create this EU-wide multimodal travel experience. One of these projects is Shift2MaaS, which launched in 2019 and is coordinated by UITP (the International Association of Public Transport). Shift2MaaS tests the technologies developed by other IP4 projects in the real world, looking at how functionalities are used by passengers and Travel Service Providers (TSPs).
Now, Shift2MaaS launched pilots in different locations across Europe to test these IP4 technologies in real life. In the pilots, passengers tested the ‘Travel Companion app’ during different journey scenarios: a multimodal trip in Lisbon, a national journey from Madrid to Malaga, and a cross-border trip from Czech Republic to Germany (due to COVID-19 restrictions, part of the pilots were held in online focus groups).
The passengers tested functionalities such as the journey planner, trip tracking, and ticket purchasing and cancellation. Entertainment features of the app, such as a quiz about the area, have also been tried out. Furthermore, in Lisbon, pilot participants tested the so-called ‘Mobility Packages’: a MaaS subscription that includes for example a monthly ticket to all modes of public transport.
While the pilots showed that participants were enthusiastic about using the app and found it easy to use, the results of the pilots are still being analysed. It was the first time IP4 technologies were tried out by real end-users, and insights will be used to investigate and evaluate the impact of the innovations on the journey experience and determine what can still be improved.
We’re really striving for insight into the practical application of the technology. We need demonstrations and projects such as Shift2MaaS to apply the IP4 technologies to the real world.
While this pilots focused on passengers, a Shift2MaaS pilot held in 2020 already looked at the perspective of TSPs, as the app also includes functionalities used by providers to advance the uptake of MaaS. Two services for the TSPs were tested. The Asset Manager, a place where the TSPs can manage all their assets (e.g., timetables, different datasets), and the Contractual Management Market Place (CMMP): a tool that helps TSPs to manage agreements among them for the development of mobility subscription packages.
The TSPs pilots already showed positive results. The Asset Manager was labeled as an easy-to-use one-stop-shop, with 100% of participants saying they would like to have the tool developed in their city. For the CCMP feedback received was also positive, with recommendations for improvement including more clarity around legal obligations and an improved user interface.
The results of both pilots will be used to define the next steps for the IP4 ecosystem development, focusing on improving the technologies and providing the valuable feedback from operators and passengers to IP4 developers. This is a major step towards the market update of IP4 technologies at European level.
Projects like Shift2MaaS are essential to make the link between theory and practice and to achieve the wide-scale uptake of Maas schemes in Europe. With the results from these first pilots, we can make real progress towards an application that further advances seamless EU mobility.