By Scott Shepard, Chief Business Officer, Iomob Technology Services
The “Hub and Spoke model” is a spatial concept typically applied to urban geography and regional transportation networks. While this is standard orthodoxy, a new application is being tested out which has the potential to deliver positive benefits to shared mobility consumers and urban transport passengers.
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in 2019 is currently going through a maturity cycle. While many successful technical and commercial pilots have been delivered and are in this process of being evaluated, the use cases are disparate. As discussed in a previous article “Public MaaS — A Framework for Equitable Mobility” there is a spectrum of delivery models that integrate public transportation with shared mobility providers (MSPs).
The MaaS spectrum starts with the “Private MaaS”, which is what is primarily being tested out in U.S. cities, such as with Denver RTD and Uber. Public transport passengers can book bus and rail tickets directly in the Uber app. This is a fully privatized MaaS consumer experience.
As we move move to the center of the spectrum is the “Hybrid MaaS” we see the apps that provide a simple, all on one subscription for all forms of mobility. This is hybrid, because the MaaS platform acts as an open framework that has the ability to link all modes together. The problem here is that there is no guarantee that the consumer will have the full range of mobility options to choose from, which delivers an incomplete modal experience.
Finally with “Public MaaS”, what we see is a coherent, tightly orchestrated set of functions and providers that are brought together to deliver shared mobility in a frictionless customer journey. This is currently being (or in the procees of being) delivered in multiple European cities, notably Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Prague.
Public MaaS typically goes hand-in-hand with the Hub and Spoke model within a shared mobility context. The reason being that by applying a spatial / topological model to MaaS, we can logically fit all of the functional pieces together. Incorporating trip planning, discover, booking, payments, and ancillary consumer services within one platform has always been the holy grail of MaaS.
The Hub and Spoke model is structured as follows: 1.) public transport authorities (PTAs) and cities serves as the “hub” for the delivery and access of of mobility options in an urban context and 2.) MSPs and ancillary services are the “spokes” that digitally feed into the hub. This is the model that is currently being tested and refined by many European cities and regions.
In developing structured frameworks that encourage and incentivize MSPs to participate in a shared mobility platform, public transport authorities (PTAs) and cities are best positioned to coherently bring all of the relevant stakeholders together for joint cooperation. This is the ultimate realization of MaaS, which eliminates all pain points and friction as a result of the consumer mobility experience.
While the layout and urbanization of U.S. cities is highly different (on average) than European cities, new business models that take a more orchestrated and collaborative approach will better deliver the full value proposition of MaaS. For the time being however, Private MaaS appears to be the low hanging fruit in delivering “quick wins”. Unfortunately this is a piecemeal approach and will ultimately prevent cities from fully integrating all shared mobility providers into a service that reduces dependence on single car ownership and congestion.
Scott Shepard is an urbanist & mobility visionary, C-level executive, board member, advisor, strategist, thought leader, and influencer who is passionate about the intersection of cities, mobility, and innovation. He is a frequent global keynote speaker on shared mobility trends & disruption, OEM innovation & investments, future mobility tech, and urban public policy. His writing about cities and mobility has been published in Intelligent Transport Magazine, Smart Cities World, Auto Futures, the Urban Mobility Daily, Medium, & Transportes em Revista.