Disruptive Mobility – a Symptom or the Cure?

Kyyti CEO Pekka Möttö in a gray jacket

By Pekka Möttö, Kyyti Group CEO | Global mobility market is going through the first phase of a major technological disruption. Driving factor behind the revolution is sustainability. OEM’s are doing great job in reducing carbon footprint, but sustainability can not be reached by that alone, not to mention fixing congestion, which in many parts of the world has long ago run out of hand.

Other imperative factor in multimodal and sustainable mobility system besides private car is public service which is based on shared resources. Public transport is in a central role and it will more and more be supplemented by services and sharing models enabled by digital solutions to reach the customer. This is what we call MaaS. Mobility as a Service.

Concept of MaaS was developed in Finland. For us Finns it has been clear from the beginning, that MaaS is a way to solve the problems. More effective use of resources, better usability of public transport, new innovative solutions to supplement public transport, solutions to provide public services in rural areas, sharing the resources, getting more accurate data to enable better planning on a system level etc. The list is long and the goal is to make it easier to live without owning a car or to use the car in a more intelligent way.

A lot has happened in the past few years in the field of disruptive mobility. Digital channels enable reaching the customer and these channels have been used effectively. Have the results so far been favourable? Well, mention disruptive mobility to a venture capitalist and you’ll end up filling the streets and sidewalks with various kinds of vehicles – mostly on two or four wheels. There have also been signs of a significant decline in public transport usage in the areas where new concepts have been deployed successfully. Basically what has happened is that the symptom has worsened the disease.

Is this the fault of disruptive companies or their customers? Obviously not, of course. My reckoning is, that the root cause of problems has been the existing public transport system which is not on the level it should be. If your customers use your service because they have to and they have no option, you are likely to take a severe hit when options appear. It is fair to say that wide adoption of disruptive mobility services is a symptom of a poorly performing old system. I have not seen major impacts in places where public transport has been good in the first place. Often the changes don’t happen until there is a challenger that forces them to happen. I have extensive first hand experience of this in Finland, but that is another story.

What pleases me in the development, is what has happened during last year. The disruptive giants have changed their approach and started to actively seek cooperation with transport authorities. They are seeking ways to offer also public transport in the same app as they offer their own services. This is in compliance with the MaaS Gospel we have been preaching for several years. Sustainable system needs to work as a system. The system needs to be coordinated by someone. That someone needs to have the intent and incentive to make sure that the service level and customer experience are in a good enough level also in areas where population density is low. This someone needs to be a public authority and they must have access to the actual mobility data.

At the moment it seems to me that the public sector is on the defensive. First symptoms have understandably scared a lot of people in charge of the public service and the willingness to cooperate with the disruptors is not high. We as an intelligent mobility industry need to assure the authorities that we are not on the warpath. We are on a mission to improve the usability of the transport system as whole. We believe that we have the Cure.

Disruptive technologies and business models are essential for development. There are areas in life where disruptive technologies need to be implemented, but disruptive business models must be controlled to avoid chaos and to ensure sustainable benefits. Mobility is such an area and wide cooperation is needed.

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