Could the growing demand for of Mobility as a Service spell the end for private vehicle ownership?

Big changes are taking place in the automotive industry, changes that are expected to significantly alter the everyday commute.

Between zero emission vehicles, autonomous modes of transport and the boom of ride-sharing services, personal transport is expected to soon look completely unrecognizable to how we see it today.

And if forecasts are to be believed, this shift will result in personal vehicles largely becoming a thing of the past.

Such a prediction has been mooted by Roads Australia, who have concluded that Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is on the way to becoming the common mode of everyday personal transport.

MaaS providers have already proven to be quite popular in Australia with ride-sharing services and bike and scooter-sharing programs offering cheap alternatives to inner-city driving, while the public transport system continues to move hundreds of thousands of commuters every day.

The prediction from Roads Australia does brings up a hotly debated question in today’s climate. Is private vehicle ownership on the way out?

Following a recent study tour to the United States and Canada to gain perspective of the emerging challenges and trends being witnessed in technological innovation for the future transport, Roads Australia have developed the Future Transport: Smart Cities 2019 Report.

The report features a series of findings that highlight emerging developments and challenges that will affect Australia into the future, challenges that Australian transport providers will need to prepare for.

One of the key takeaways from the report according to Roads Australia President David Stuart-Watt, was that customers would be the ones to drive the future direction of Australia’s mobility future.

“In the US, so-called Mobility as a Service is the ‘new black’, and it’s being driven by a recognition that governments and transport service providers need to plan and provide flexible, integrated transport options from a customer’s perspective,” said Mr Stuart-Watt.

The report found that MaaS would only overtake private vehicle ownership as the primary form of personal transport if a seamless transition was provided from the customers front door to their final destination, opening the way for collaboration between transport providers to offer a single payment journey that involves multiple connections with minimal waiting time.

The concept of a door-to-door journey painted as a possibility by Roads Australia relies heavily on public transport. However, the public transport infrastructure will need to be reliable, efficient and cost effective in order to promote the form of transport as a superior option to driving.

With 69% of daily commuters using their personal vehicle to travel to work as per the 2016 Australian census, it would suggest that public transport infrastructure requires significant investment for commuters to make the switch.

The uptake of public transport also marks a significant step in the battle against road congestion currently facing major cities across the nation.

With population growth and urban development fast outgrowing road infrastructure, Australian roads are struggling to meet the rising demand of cars on the road, particularly during peak periods of congestion.

According to a 2018 report by the Australian Automobile Association, congestion cost Australia $16.5 billion AUD in 2015. Without proper intervention, this cost is expected to reach up to $37.3 billion AUD by 2030.

“Efficient mass transit systems will be more critical than ever to do the ‘heavy lifting’ in our transport task,” said Mr Stuart-Watt.

“We need to urgently and significantly increase our investment in mass transit to cope with population growth in this country.”

The Roads Australia report also suggests that moving to a MaaS model of transport will require a shift away from society’s reliance on personal vehicles.

Popular ride-sharing company Uber believes private vehicle ownership has reached its peak and with more alternative transport options including ride-sharing services entering the market, the move away from owning a vehicle can already be seen in some demographics.

The other deterrent to vehicle ownership comes from the face that a privately-owned vehicle spends approximately 95% of its life parked, making a car a substantial investment on a resource that largely sits idle.

Mr Stuart-Watt believes that while it may be difficult for owners to hand over the keys to their personal car in favour of car services, it is beneficial for everyone.

“While this prospect may be uncomfortable for Australians who love their cars, we don’t expect governments will stand in the way of the transition. With the potential for each shared vehicle to replace ten privately owned cars, the cost and social benefits that accrue from reduced congestion will be enormous.”

However, there are still many reasons why one might assume the ownership of a vehicle will be difficult to phase out.

Many consumers simply love the autonomy, independence and reliability of owning a vehicle. This is particularly important for those who must drive long distances for work or are regularly on the move, as well as parents catering for their children.

Then there is the logistical issue of catering for consumers living in the outer city suburbs.

While MaaS works well for inner-city residents, providing reliable, efficient public transport and car-sharing services to those living further away from the city proves a challenge without additional investment in public transport infrastructure.

The Future Transport: Smart Cities 2019 Report predicts that big changes are coming to how commuters travel to and from work. Whether these changes render owning a vehicle useless, however, depends on the collaborative effort of government, industry leaders and transport providers in providing the infrastructure required to shift consumers perception of personal travel.

For a full copy of the Roads Australia Future Transport: Smart Cities 2019 Report, click here.

Original source: Roads Australia | Private vehicle ownership on the way out as ‘Mobility as a Service’ reshapes our transport future

Nov 5 2019