MPs call for more government support for Mobility-as-a-Service
by Matthew Niblett on 21 Dec 2018
Mobility-as-a-Service is a highly talked about technology, but Brexit paralysis in the UK has led to the Government neglecting it. A group of backbench MPs has tried to push the Government into action with a new report highlighting what policies it wants to see.
The report's central criticism is that government support for MaaS has not been sufficiently forthcoming, and that the current MaaS landscape in the UK is disjointed and fragmented. The Committee sets the Government two main tasks: commit more fully to MaaS as something which can solve policy problems; and better co-ordinate trials of MaaS to establish best practice.
One of the report's main findings is that the Government's current strategy to reduce emissions and congestion leans too heavily on electric vehicles, and that MaaS is an ideal and obvious solution for tackling these problems. The report calls on the Government to provide leadership on the issue, provide practical support, and to create the right legal and regulatory framework for MaaS. On the last point, the report calls for all amendments to existing law to be in place by June 2019, however any primary legislation required is certain to take longer than that.
The second of the report's findings, that the MaaS landscape is too disparate currently, also contains a call to action for the Government. The report recommends that the Government collect data on a range of MaaS projects in order to develop best practice in the field, to develop an overall framework for MaaS which tests both the potential positive and negative outcomes, and to fund a wide range of pilots using both current and potential future funding arrangements.
How likely are we to see any movement on this front? Many of the report's suggestions call for relatively immediate action, and some lean on pre-existing subsidies or encourage the incorporation of MaaS into existing strategies and policy projects. For instance, the report recommends that the Government includes MaaS when it updates its Future of Urban Mobility Strategy, which the Government consulted on during summer 2018.
Of course, there is a difference between what the Government can do in theory and what it can do in practice, and the shadow of Brexit looms large as ever. The Department for Transport has some of the most challenging issues around Brexit and given the responses to the Future of Urban Mobility consultation have not yet been published, it seems unlikely that significant action on MaaS will be forthcoming in the first quarter of 2019. It therefore seems unlikely that the Department will have successfully amended all existing relevant legislation to be more amenable towards MaaS by the report's June 2019 deadline, given the amount of legislation required to implement Brexit.
Regardless of Brexit, Ministers are obliged to provide a written response to the Committee's report within three months of its publication and, legislative changes aside, many of the Committee's recommendations could be adopted as part of the implementation of existing policies.
Written by Matthew Niblett
Matthew provides monitoring and analysis to clients in energy, mobility, short-term accommodation, and the wider sharing economy. He coordinates two sector news summaries covering the bike sharing and on-demand transport sector for some of the leading players in the sector.