Mobility platforms of the future:
smart, efficient and convenient

Different options that transportation companies should know about

We all agree that our cities should be less dominated by personal car traffic and offer better quality of life. To achieve this, smart mobility concepts with an intermodal approach are being designed, combining high-performance public transport with individualised offers, that are tailored to the customers’ needs. The key to success will be designing regional mobility platforms that provide easy and convenient access to all mobility services. Various approaches can be pursued, which should be considered in more detail.

Different kinds of mobility platforms

Information platforms pursue the goal of providing overall information on different mobility alternatives. They present various travel options, but do not offer any booking options and therefore no multimodal linking of the offers.

Marketplace platforms make a multimodal proposal and display different booking options. This means that various mobility alternatives are listed in parallel and can be booked individually on the app. Technologically, these systems are based on the deep link concept which means that the user is directed to a corresponding subpage of the respective mobility provider for the actual booking. Because of the necessity to book each part of the chain individually, this is an inconvenient way to create intermodal travel chains.

Broker platforms allow customers to comfortably book intermodal travel chains based on their preferences. Having chosen one of the intermodal trip suggestions, users can book all services with just one single click. The technical prerequisite for this is deep integration of all connected booking systems. These are connected via application programming interfaces (APIs), enabling them to exchange all the necessary data bidirectionally. This results in numerous functional possibilities, such as travel assistance in real time.

Commercial platforms rely on a different business model. Here, a single commercial provider buys capacity from the mobility service providers in the region and resells them at a profit. Opting for a commercial platform means that transportation companies have to forego control options that other models would offer them.

Different goals

In order for a transport company to evaluate which form of mobility platform is the most suitable, it should first clarify its own goals. It is also important to consider long-term expansion options in order to ensure that the platform is future-proof.

User comfort  What level of convenience and flexibility would transport companies like to offer
their customers? If central access to passenger information is considered to be sufficient and selection and booking are left to the passengers, then an information platform is sufficient. If, in addition, transport companies wish to enable the purchase of various tickets from an app, then marketplace platforms come into question. With the appropriate technical framework, commercial platforms can enable intermodal travel chains, provided it serves their economic interest. But only a broker IT architecture enables valid intermodal booking chains. Initially, broker platforms acquire options for all required tickets and only book them once all necessary individual bookings have been reserved. Users receive all their tickets and access authorisations in one app. In addition, broker platforms enable intermodal discounts to be granted and allow existing subscriptions and user preferences to be taken into account. This is how MaaS offers become financially attractive to the user.

Considerations concerning transport policies and urban development – Should MaaS offerings be part of higher-level concepts of urban and mobility planning? If communities intend to establish mobility hubs where the mode of transport can be conveniently changed and where other mobility-related services can be bundled (such as parcel services, pick-up locations for ordered goods, lockers or charging stations for electric vehicles), services from numerous providers must be combined and coordinated by the mobility platform. The user will not notice the system's complexity, though. This requires a deep-integrated data exchange and therefore a broker platform that leaves the community in full control.

Passenger guidance – Will dynamic control of traffic flows be a requirement in the future? If communities want to support their mobility goals via routing suggestions and achieve better traffic flow and greater safety for passengers, the platform must be able to adapt the specifications of routing suggestions, depending on the current situation. This requires extensive integration of real-time data, e.g. regarding congestion and possible construction works, available parking spaces or the occupancy rate of public transport vehicles or entire lines. Controlled routing should by no means be delegated to a commercial operator pursuing its own commercial goals. Marketplace and information platforms are not good alternatives either because they do not enable intermodal travel chains. Only with a broker platform can situational, intermodal routing help to direct traffic in the city effectively.

Conclusion

Transport authorities should consider very carefully which technology concept will best help them achieve their long-term goals. These goals very often require the deep integration of the providers involved and hence a broker architecture. Only a broker architecture offers transport authorities full control over transport policy goals, economic scope and passenger guidance.

Contact

Dr. Roxana Hess

Product Manager MaaS
Deputy Team Manager Research
INIT GmbH
Germany