Empowering commuters: Mobility as a service in Singapore

Besides sustainability, mobility as a service (“MaaS”) is gradually gaining currency around the world. In this article, we take a closer look at Singapore’s mobility landscape and how MaaS can impact and transform the lives of commuters in such a densely populated city-state.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (“URA”) has said that MaaS has the potential to elevate the quality of commuter travel and contribute to Singapore’s vision of a “car-lite” city.

In fact, Singapore’s urban planners have envisioned a car-lite future in which residents depend less on private car ownership, and the main modes of transportation are cycling and public transport. Although there have been concerted efforts to reduce car ownership rates in Singapore, there are an estimated one million vehicles on the roads, of which more than 600,000 are private and rental cars.

As transportation and new forms of technology converge, MaaS is one such innovation that could encourage the car-lite push. At least two MaaS providers have expressed interest in the Singapore market.

What can MaaS offer?

MaaS integrates public transport services with private sector offerings on a single platform. It unifies control over information, reservation, and payment all inapp. Moreover, MaaS does not only bring together vehicles and rail lines, but it also promotes last-mile solutions such as licensed e-bikes and electric scooters.

MaaS platforms allow commuters to plan their journey across an array of transport modes, similar to Google Maps’ route planning feature. Instead of separately paying for each mode of transport, one simply pays for their trip via a single interface.

This level of integration enables a high level of convenience, which essentially redefines the touch points in a commuter’s journey. Commuters have the power to choose which mode of transport best suits them, where and when they want it.

Users also have the option to pay a fixed monthly fee through the app for an unlimited number of rides on public transport. Finnish start-up MaaS Global has compared this subscription-based model to that of giant entertainment platforms such as Netflix and Spotify.

The start-up is soon launching a beta version of its Whim app in Singapore, in collaboration with transport company ComfortDelGro.

What can we expect from MaaS in Singapore?

Urban planning is critical to the success of MaaS. The Land Transport Authority of Singapore (“LTA”) is building cycling networks and redesigning road spaces to be more cyclist-friendly and pedestrian-oriented. “Designed primarily with the users in mind, such infrastructure can allow MaaS to facilitate seamless point-to-point trips,” says G. Arull, Partner, Head of Transport & Logistics, Mazars in Singapore.

The birth of MaaS is in part thanks to Smart Mobility 2030, a joint development between LTA and the Intelligent Transportation Society of Singapore (“ITSS”). Smart Mobility 2030 seeks to achieve a more connected and interactive transport community through intelligent transport systems.

A wide variety of information services will be available to diverse user groups for a better commuting experience. Some key examples of intelligent systems are: vehicle-to-vehicle communications, in-vehicle telematics, global navigation satellite systems (“GNSS”) location-aware applications.

Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information in Singapore, has revealed that the authorities are sharing transit data with local start-up MobilityX to help them improve its product. 

“Collaboration between the public and private sectors means both parties can mutually benefit from shared knowledge and expertise,” notes Jonathan Maglaqui, Associate Director, Mazars in Singapore. “You need strong private-public partnerships to make MaaS work.” adds Arull.

MaaS is an approach welcomed by transport infrastructures that are ripe for change and disruption. However, whether MaaS will truly work in Singapore remains to be seen, as the transport landscape is distinct from other countries that have already embraced MaaS.

If it does work, we can expect more freedom in the way we travel – more empowered commuters on-the-move. After all, there is no one size fits all when it comes to mobility solutions.

 

Sources:

1. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore

2. Budget Direct

3.  Energy Smart Communities Initiative