Greater Manchester and Atkins teams up for MaaS research project

Greater Manchester is planning to research a and develop a business model around Mobility as a Service with a “vision to make travel easier for all residents”. Transport for Greater Manchester says the project will use smart technology to study how people could, in the future, plan and pay for their door-to-door journey – trams, buses, bike hire and even ride-sharing – in one transaction.

It’s believed projected benefits to the region include a better travel experience for users, and it’s hoped, fewer cars on some of the region’s busiest roads – potentially leading to less congestion and pollution and increased health and wellbeing. In a statement it’s said that up to 2,000 people die prematurely in Greater Manchester each year due to illnesses related to air pollution with congestion costing the Greater Manchester economy around £1.3bn per year, through issues such as lost productivity and late deliveries.

Responding to trends that find fewer people are using cars – especially in Manchester city centre – the research project aims to encourage take-up of public transport by finding ways of personalising the experience for users. This could mean offering customers bespoke information on travel choices – including accessible and most affordable options – and radically simplifying how to pay for it.

The research project will be sponsored by TfGM and delivered by Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin group, who will be working closely with travel providers, commuters, residents and local businesses. Its first phase includes mapping current travel behaviour to ensure the service reflects local needs. Rafael Cuesta, Head of Innovation for Transport for Greater Manchester, said, “We are really excited to be bringing our MaaS research project to Greater Manchester. This project has the potential to further transform how people get about this region and make our roads far less congested and polluting.

“It’s all about choice. We’re looking at how to provide people – including those who can’t afford to run a car – with information about the full range of travel options for their journey so they can make up their own minds. We’re researching ways of offering a one-stop payment option – this could potentially remove the hassle of navigating multiple booking options or having to carry cash.

“From an environmental perspective, it’s well-documented how important good air quality is to our health and wellbeing. This research project focuses on ways of persuading people to consider alternative forms of public transport – with the potential to significantly impact on emissions and congestion.
“Our region is constantly changing and our MaaS research project is just one way that we’re looking to future-proof our service for both our current and next generation of residents.”

Nathan Marsh, Atkins’ Director UK & Europe, Intelligent Mobility, added, “Atkins is thrilled to be getting involved in a MaaS project that has the potential to be transformative for the region. Our previous studies have found that people are prepared to consider using more public transport – it’s all about finding ways of making it as seamless, affordable and accessible as possible.