Remembering the “Service” in Mobility-as-a-Service In Our New Mobility Reality

  • Author: Amber Simmons
  • Date: August 18, 2020

During the pandemic, there have been multiple webinars and workshops helping transportation and mobility providers provide solutions to their customers that are touchless and “safe”. 

Whether by transit, volunteer drivers, TNC’s (Transportation Network Companies), human service transportation, paratransit or micro-mobility options, many agencies are attempting to address serving riders in this new touchless-no contact COVID-19 world.

By far the “popular vote” answer seems to be various technology Mobility-as-a-Service solutions which negates cash payments, provides no touch options and virtually no human interaction at all.  Perhaps we are missing an important point.

 

Don’t miss the obvious when seeking technology solutions

Before creating the latest technology that shows moving vehicles in real time or ordering a bus, cab and scooter to individual homes, let’s remember the people without the technology to view or use any of it. Many people need to connect with each other in order to explain what they need, what makes them feel safe and mobility managers help connect the dots for the people who are unsure of what solutions may be available to them.

Technology, no contact solutions are only good if there are three elements:

  1. An actual internet connection.
  2. A device to access the solution, and
  3. The know how to access and use the solution.

When we look at various mobility options included in Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) pilots, the ultimate users for many modes are our more vulnerable populations (older adults, people with disabilities and low income). It’s important to always consider your audience or end user and remember that many of the people who need mobility are lacking one or all of the required elements to make it work. Tech partners are all about innovation, and many answer the call with an app, and sometimes a cashless solution to help make the world “safe to travel”.

An app on a phone and not touching cash is as safe as using a phone to make a call to a human being who can answer real questions, in real time.  This mobility management approach utilizes real people who consider the need through the lens of the person who needs the ride.  Mobility management practitioners also provide information or refer programs and agencies which fund trips.

Ensuring people are part of the solution

We cannot create substantial infrastructure overnight that will allow us to “tech” our way out of this pandemic.  Real people, with experience, knowledge and know-how will work together to utilize what’s needed in the moment and repurpose, reuse, and re-imagine the world we are living in right now.

Right now, there are hundreds of knowledgeable mobility managers and practitioners working in their communities, who understand the current needs, the current climate and the gaps in service.  Those that truly need help, may not have more than a flip phone with zero tech capabilities. 

Use funding to connect people

If a community doesn’t have a mobility management program, create one.  If it does have one, expand it.  Use funding wisely to connect vulnerable populations to all the wonderful mobility solutions within a community and create new solutions to fill gaps in service.  This is done with knowledgeable people, not an app. 

The technology is one slice of a much bigger pie, so don’t forget the service, in a Mobility-as-a-Service project. Service will go beyond the COVID-19 world and provides a great value to the vulnerable populations the projects are intended to service.

To learn more about MaaS, visit our Mobility as a Service Resource Page.

 

We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Kirby Wilhelm (wilhelm@ctaa.org).