Demographic change and progressive urbanization are presenting public transport with major challenges, particularly in metropolitan regions. At the same time, car ownership is becoming less and less important: now the emphasis is on use, rather than ownership. Enhanced technological possibilities and changed consumer values are leading to the emergence of innovative mobility concepts, focusing above all on a multi- and intermodal transport usage. Endless new mobility services such as car sharing, bike sharing, ride sharing and parking space sharing are penetrating the market with their digital business models and, in some instances, competing with local transport.
A survey by Q_PERIOR demonstrates that more than half of all Germans would like an overarching mobility platform to cover their entire travel chain. ‘Mobility from a single source’: a precondition for future customer satisfaction.
The mobility sector is reacting to this trend accordingly: Many providers are increasingly attempting to position themselves on the market as mobility service providers. By cooperating with local sharing service providers they are expanding their own portfolio so they can offer their customers ‘Mobility+’. Examples of this include ‘Leipzig mobil’, ‘smile – einfach mobil’ or ‘Qixxit’.
Existing mobility services are usually regional stand-alone solutions
Despite the variety of providers and solutions, the various concepts are usually region-specific services. Equally lacking is a deeper integration of the various mobility services in terms of registration, booking and payment in an overarching platform. What is more, these concepts often act more as an intermediary service than an integrated service offering. Public transport companies, for example, offer their customers access to new services in their region in the form of mobility cards. Others put together entire mobility packages that, as well as the actual ticket, include car sharing, bike sharing or other services. While this sort of service offering allows customers to benefit from preferential terms, easier access and registration fees being waived, services often continue to be booked and paid for separately. Along with providing intremediary services, some transport companies or associations focus on creating their own sharing concepts. The Ministry of Transport has been promoting various cycling projects since 2009 as part of the ‘Innovative public bike hire systems’ pilot project. As part of this funding project, public bike hire systems (ÖVFS) were set up in Kassel, Mainz, Nuremberg and the Ruhr district. This pilot project provided valuable experience for organizational, operation and fee integration in public transport. It became apparent that factors such as quality rental bikes and stations, uncomplicated rental processes, easily accessible information, proximity to public transport stops as well as an intuitive and functional app are crucial to the success of bike hire systems. Other cities and regions still use these findings when setting up bike hire systems (Source: National Cycling Plan).
“Sharing concepts add to an already wide range of mobility services on the market, building custom and intermodal travel chains for customers. But what is lacking is the actual integration of the services as a means of overcoming both existing regional restrictions as well as sham integration in the form of mediation services.”
Gerald Ott, Associate Partner at business and IT consultancy firm Q_PERIOR
Existing solutions are innovative approaches which, nonetheless, fall short of expectations. They offer only region-specific services and are missing the actual point, i.e what the customer wants: integrated and overarching mobility platforms that pool a variety of different mobility services across Germany on one platform and offer customers multi- and intermodal door-to-door travel planning anytime and anywhere.
Integrated platforms: Mobility from a single source
But there’s another way, the following are a few examples: Since August 2015 the Leipzig transport network (LVB) has been offering customers ‘Leipzig mobil’: an integrated solution that allows them to use mobility services such as car sharing and bike rental via their account. Customers can get information via the app and book and pay for services there and then too. In addition to region-specific, integrated solutions, there are also mobility portals that combine various different mobility services across the regions on their platform. One pioneer in this field was the research project ‘smile – einfach mobil’, headed by Vienna Lines. The aim was to develop an integrated mobility platform using which customers could not only find out extensive information about all modes of transport, but also select, book, pay for and use these. In a one-year pilot operation, the prototype was tested intensively and received very positively. The findings from this pilot project were then used in the lab project ‘BeamBeta’, Austria’s first public mobility platform for planning, booking and paying for intermodal travel. One of the first solutions of this kind, which enabled the identification of intermodal travel chains throughout Germany, came from Daimler. In 2013, the automotive manufacturer launched ‘moovel’, an application that provides multimodal information on different modes of transport. As well as having access to information, customers can book and pay for products such as ‘car2go’ and ‘mytaxi’, tickets for public transport in Stuttgart and Hamburg as well as Deutsch Bahn (German Rail) tickets straight from their moovel account too. Deutsch Bahn entered the market of mobility platforms with an app of its own: ‘Qixxit’. Using the app customers can calculate intermodal connections throughout Germany via a variety of different modes of transport. Only DB tickets are currently available for direct booking through the app however.
Innovative mobility services: Why user numbers fall short of expectations despite a diverse range of services and the advent of integrated solutions.
Local restrictions and a lack of cross-use opportunities between services diminish the usage incentive and, potentially make the associated switching costs not worth it.
INCREASED INFORMATION EFFORT
The varying business models and pricing structures from one provider to another mean more effort of the part of the customer.
Customers have to register and store their details with each provider separately and customers require separate apps or smart cards.
CHANGE IN MOBILITY PATTERNS
The habits of day-to-day mobility must first be set aside and a new approach to changing mobility learned.
The various services lack prominence among the wider public.
The current target group is too small owing to the restriction to subscription customers.
Ways of implementing comprehensive mobility services
In the future, certain parameters need to be redesigned for greater market penetration. There should be an increased focus on customers and their needs. ‘Mobility from a single source’ is the key priority. To meet this requirement, the following four integration perspectives in particular should be attributed key significance.
Smart networking is paving the way for innovative mobility
Now classic IT firms (IBM, Google), automotive manufacturers (Daimler, Citroen, BMW) and innovative start-ups (ally) are hot on the trail of the trending topic of multimodality and getting involved in the mobility app market. This is adding more and more to the competitive pressure on classic transport companies. There is a risk of unintentionally losing customer relationships to third-party providers. Growing market power could see platform operators start to dictate terms to transport companies. Providers are no longer able to avoid the trend of the sharing economy. In the future, public transport should see itself as a driving force behind the transformation into a multimodal mobility pattern and assume the role of integrator of the various mobility services – moving away from local transport alone and towards integrated mobility services. Alongside convenience for customers, transport services expanding their own portfolios will have a positive effect on image and perception of public transport. The initiation and advancement of common standards and interfaces constitute key success factors for supraregional service networking.
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