Climate change is becoming harder to mitigate and with the need to transition to sustainable alternatives being larger than ever before, ...
Climate change is becoming harder to mitigate and with the need to transition to sustainable alternatives being larger than ever before, we cannot neglect the necessary changes needed in our urban mobility environment. As urban challenges are rising, there is a broad consensus that fundamental changes are needed in order to ensure that urban areas remain livable, accessible and sustainable. According to the United Nations, 68% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas in 2050 if current global trends continue. One of the most substantial challenges that populous cities face is trying to reduce the level of traffic congestion. Congestion leads to significant economic costs (more than EUR 270 billion annually in Europe) and previous research shows that the increase of road capacity only leads to more traffic, and therefore more congestion.
When reconsidering how urban spaces could be utilized more efficiently in order to engage in sustainable and efficient urban planning, micro-mobility could play a significant role in the world, and especially in the Netherlands. It is increasingly recognised as a promising form of sustainable transportation that reduces private vehicle use and offers an alternative for short-distance travel. However, just offering consumers efficient and user-friendly forms of transportation is not going to solve the current (and upcoming) complex urban challenges; it requires a holistic approach in which we look at the transportation system as a whole and ask ourselves the question: how can we lower the barrier for consumers to use all publicly available modes of transportation and make it as easy, flexible and user-friendly as possible?!
A Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) system in which public transport and micro-mobility complement one another and can be booked and used through one mobile application could be the answer to this question, as “it creates an easy user experience that will promote the sharing part of mobility and creates more flexibility for traveling”. However, the concept of using one app in which every itinerary can be planned and reserved, which enables users to use shared cars, bikes, e-moped and public transport through one app, will require some behavioral changes. The Dutch are accustomed to use a single card for public transport, namely the public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart in Dutch) and in order to use micro-mobility, they pack their phones with different applications. MaaS apps should play their role to extend coverage of many forms of transport, with integrations that allow for a seamless travel experience. If this new travel experience is superior to the old one, the proportion of private vehicle owners may lose ground to the number of people willing to use shared vehicles together with public transport.
However, to push the development of the Dutch MaaS system,the demand should come from users, leading to improved services within the MaaS system and therefore pushing infrastructure, policy making and the willingness of mobility providers to cooperate forward. There is no target audience more fit to be introduced to MaaS than the group of young adolescents and students. These young people easily adopt (and adapt to) innovation, and public transport is already one of their primary modes of transportation. Therefore, micro-mobility providers should target younger generations to speed up the total level of adoption.
Various studies from, amongst others the Technical University of Delft, show that the more extensive the supply of mobility services is, the higher the likelihood that someone will leave their private car behind. If students are given the opportunity to use a product which fits their mobility demand as a whole, they can fully explore the benefits of shared mobility. This can lead them to delay the purchase of a first private car after their studies.
However, the MaaS sector as a whole only works well if all players within the sector can benefit from these market developments and therefore local public parties such as municipalities should promote the developments in the micro-mobility and shared-mobility sector. This is especially the case in the Netherlands, where developments in Mobility-as-a-Service have been welcomed, but the government has not been proactive in stimulating fair markets for MaaS platforms and micro-mobility providers.
Introducing MaaS and micro-mobility to young generations has the potential to make a significant impact. By focusing on what these younger generations need, using a customer-centered approach, we are able to create a life-long optimized travel experience in which young people and the MaaS system grow together simultaneously. The only requirement for the development of a MaaS system is that all parties involved must work together: we need policy makers that prioritize the potential of sustainable modes of transportation and fair market regulations, we need public transport and micro mobility providers that do not see each other as competition but rather as complementaries of one another and we need a shared vision that ensures we stay aligned along the way. We are all in this together!
Flytz is a young start-up, founded by former students Joost Wilmink, Daan Peeters and Renske Wytzes. Flytz aims to optimize the travel experience of students through a Mobility-as-a-Service platform that creates a seamless travel experience in which they can use all modes of (sustainable) transportation, both public transport and shared vehicles, through the use of one single app. Flytz launched their first pilot in April 2022 in collaboration with Moves, the local municipality of Rotterdam (Gemeente Rotterdam) and Zuid-Holland Bereikbaar, in which 300 students from Rotterdam are going to test a new travel facility for a period of 3 months. During this time, participants will not use the Dutch traveling card (“OV-Chipkaart”), but a Mobility-as-a-Service app, through which they can travel with both public transport and shared mobility services.
About Donkey Republic
Donkey Republic is one of Europe's leading providers of end-to-end bike-sharing solutions providing both pedal- and e-bikes. The company aims to provide affordable and sustainable urban mobility for the masses, by partnering with cities to turn the humble bike into the hero of urban transport. The company is expanding across Europe and as of 31.12.2021, it operates 13k bikes and ebikes in 24 cities as a Mobilityas-a-Service (“MaaS”) provider. Furthermore it licenses its platform as Software-as-a-Service (“SaaS”) to partners operating 3,200 bikes across +60 cities. Based on its proprietary software at the core, Donkey Republic offers cities and local partners a fully integrated turn-key solution, including software critical to all stakeholders, bikes, operations, and support services. Donkey Republic believes that bike-sharing can be a key enabler to the green transition of our economies and to make cities more liveable.