Orchestrating a mobility ecosystem

I was recently explaining the transportation options to get around the city and arrange “agile visits” around metropolitan Montreal to first-time visitors. A discussion that had us reflect on the new meaning of passenger mobility!

With greater choices and convenience in mobility alternatives there is intense pressure on the public transit authorities who are responsible for bus commuter rail and metro services.  Figuring out how to leverage these new multimodal mobility offerings to promote sustainable passenger transportation and reduce congestion, while meeting the fast-rising Amazon-era customer expectations and also optimizing use of public funds are crucial.

Here are a few thoughts to kickstart the journey.

Design for passengers and build engagement

If we are to change our behaviours and replace the car by new modes of transport, public transport must reposition around customer-centricity informed by data analytics and artificial Intelligence (AI).  For example, the rise of the 24/7 economy, as well as remote working and flexible hours, reduce the appeal of standard weekly tickets or monthly passes. The convenience and seamlessness of on-demand services via a voice command or at the fingertips — at home, work and on the go — is what passengers are looking for today for their day-to-day travel requirements.

Build it and they shall come is no longer viable to achieve uptake of new services and policy goals.

In fact, if one wants to transport people, one must know what moves them. To keep our trust, transit authorities need to design digital platforms using analytics to enable data-driven intelligent marketing, sales and engagement and facilitate seamless intermodal mobility experiences.

Indeed, passengers will turn to providers who harness innovation to better anticipate and meet their needs, who ensure equality of access to mobility provision, and who go beyond municipal boundaries to smooth mobility patterns. The rise of regional transit governance structures like the one we have for Montreal Metro reflects the will to foster a culture of relevance across the ecosystem.

Co-innovate and scale with partners

Disruption in public transit is also clearly evidenced by the rise of new mobility options coming from privately owned digital disruptors. These disruptors are leveraging the sharing economy and connectedness of customers to offer compelling new platforms that don’t need big infrastructure investment and can scale quickly:

  • The meteoric rise of ride-hailing services like Uber, Eva and Lyft offering more choice and flexibility in how to get from A to B;
  • Car-sharing, from the likes of Communauto, Car2Go, and ride-sharing options like AmigoExpress, on the cusp of being a significant disrupter as automotive manufacturers look to shift their business models from promoting car ownership to car rental and borrowing models;
  • Micro-mobility options such as bike-sharing (Bixi) and e-scooter services (Lime and Bird) emerging as attractive alternatives.

With many customers clearly willing to pay for a personalized door-to door-experience, it’s expected that new alternatives will continue to expand as potentially competitive alternatives to public transit, or as complementary options that provide “first/last mile” transportation.

Partnering beyond traditional confines — such as public transit authorities working with alternative mobility providers or digital platforms, technology companies, city planning, academia and other private sector organizations — will allow public transit authorities to reimagine systems, launch new services and scale innovation fast across municipalities. A new business ecosystem is shaping up to address mobility gaps/challenges that haven’t been possible within traditional transit models, leveraging purposeful data sharing and efficient collaboration.

Shifting government focus

With the mobility market morphing rapidly, what is the role of governments to improve choice, rethink access to services and map the future of mobility?

As the benefits to society of new transportation options become clearer, economic and social value will lie in the efficient management of an end-to-end mobility system, enabled by a new regulatory approach with the flexibility to best support local needs.

We expect governments to consider how regulations can be adapted to encourage innovation, remove barriers to investment and allow non-traditional transit providers to play a more active role as part of a more comprehensive transport ecosystem focused on the customer’s entire travel experience.

By taking on a role of mobility regulator, governments can create the right framework, encourage specific behaviours and business practices to realize their policy objectives in smarter ways. For example, they can incentivize private mobility providers to operate socially inclusive services.

It is also imperative that governments not only play an orchestrator role to ensure that private operators complement rather than compete with public transit, but also allow transit authorities to break down barriers and move to demand-driven services especially for first/last mile services in more isolated areas.

Smart pivoting from transit authorities

How can transit authorities grow ridership, keep pace with customer demands, and facilitate more seamless experiences across regional transportation ecosystems?

  • By integrating multimodal mobility services from multiple partners on a shared platform and embracing mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) models.

Public authorities can direct this platform as it evolves to connect new mobility offerings - blending data and analytics, connected devices, connected sensors, network interfaces, cloud and user interfaces. There’s no single blueprint or one-size-fits-all approach to orchestrating MaaS. However, to capitalize on these new opportunities and better coordinate transportation services, transit authorities could focus on:

  • Continuously addressing riders’ end-to-end mobility needs via a single service contact and app;
  • Offering need-driven, personalized and optimized combinations of available transportation;
  • Offering and selling mobility services from multiple vendors/private sector partners;
  • Tracking performance to ensure policy goals and operating standards are being met.

We have identified the previous set of capabilities as differentiators for organizations that succeed in constantly adapting and remaining relevant when turbulence is the norm in their business environment.

Where do YOU stand?

About the author

Josann L’Heureux is Principal Director, Innovation with the Accenture Consulting team. For 20 years, she has supported private and public sector leaders in their efforts to achieve sustainable results aligned with their vision of transformation. She leads the Integrated Mobility workstream at our Montreal office, as part of Accenture’s global Rail & Transit team, a global leader in professional services for strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.

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