Giving up the car in a time of change – MaaS and the birth of Uber etc

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It’s been an interesting few years in my life since 24 May 2010.  In a personal sense and a transport sense.

In a personal sense: settled in Edinburgh; daughters have magically grown to 18 and 22; one daughter left home and drives – the other has started living a very independent life and doesn’t want to learn to drive; Mum and Dad both died (I still watch this entry sometimes – it was a lovely day with them (and actually had a big impact on my work)); I met a wonderful woman and fell in love. Constant change.

Plus on 24 May 2010 I gave up the car for a year and started this blog about the experience.  30+ entries later and I still don’t own a car.  I have learned such a lot about the great things in giving up the car, the difficult bits and the impossible bits which face many people.

It’s been an interesting few years in the transport world since May 2010 as well.

In July 2010 Uber was born (7 months later they had raised loads of cash for global expansion. July 2012 they come to London)).

In August 2011 Gett was launched in London.

Lyft was born in August 2012.

Nov 2013-April 2014 Ubigo undertook a 100 people trial of Mobility as a Service – subscription to transport not ownership of transport.  2015 MaaS alliance is formed and there’s been plenty written about the concept in the profession since (one of the best is the July 2016 TSC paper).

What a few years.

The Golden Lessons I have learnt from giving up the car seem aligned to lots of the professional writing and thoughts on MaaS.  I wanted mobility as a service when I started my carfreeness but was actually consuming mobility as a disservice very often.

I really wanted one bill for everything (see Golden Lesson 2 (July 2012)).  Now there are trials out there that would give me that (if they included all the transport spending that me and my family do – ALL of it).

But I also wanted to know very accurately how much I was saving from not having a car: I was asked the question so often (and still am): was it worth it?

To get to the answer I (and MaaS) need two things.  The first is a clear cost estimate of me and my family’s car-free costs against that of the car – but in a very personalised way: for example you can’t just compare the mileage I did in the year I had a car (if I had that info) with the mobility spend of the year without a car: what trips were degenerated at no real cost to my family?  How can we factor in the change of my family’s transport needs? It was a time of constant change in my family and constant change in our travel needs and behaviour.

Secondly, I need some quantification of the unexpected benefits of not having the car.  These are not the “soft” things – they are the real “hard” benefits I experienced.  Probably the biggest learning from my car free life (described in the blog) was the breadth of the unexpected benefits.

To catch on, and work as a solution, MaaS needs to answer me loud and clear:  Was my mobility better or worse from not having a car? Was my life really improved and made easier and better?

This is where the magic of selling MaaS comes.

It is also where the business model can be made – through the monetisation of the benefits.

I promised 10 Golden Lessons to end this blog – I only got up to 8 which is a bit rubbish.  I’ll do the next two – and maybe a few more – but from a professional point of view.

Professionally I was prompted to give up the car and start this blog by some great work done by Erel Avineri and Owen Waygood on a EC project I was co-ordinating.  Their work within the project included work on loss aversion and stimuli for behavioural change.  Plus I enjoy participant observation.

I should also say that another big change taking place since May 2010 was a change of job: a big personal and professional change.  In January 2014 I joined ESP Group  to form an R&D Division: Viaqqio was formed.   In giving up the car I (myself) was desperate for integrated personalised journey planning, booking and payment – I wanted something to make my life easy.  At Viaqqio, with a really talented team, we are designing and delivering mobility to do just this – with young people, older people and people living with dementia.




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