Taking their smart transport innovation a notch up, Japan is embarking on a noble concept of integrating the existing demand-responsive transport (DRT) system and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS). The testbed for the project will be the city of Nogata in the Fukuoka prefecture. MaaS is gaining prominence as a practical and workable solution for supporting initiative such as the United Nations 17 SDGs goals, specifically SDG 11, which focuses on sustainable cities and communities where transport systems play an important, if not an indispensable role.
The European Mobility as a Service Alliance defines the MaaS concept as the effort “to put the users at the core of transport services, offering them tailor made mobility solutions based on their individual needs. This means easy access to the most appropriate transport mode or service included in a bundle of flexible travel service options for end users.” DRT refers to transport services with smaller vehicle size operated on a per demand basis without regular frequency.
To bring this idea to fruition, the Australian mobility technology provider SkedGo has launched a proof of concept project with mobility platform Shotl and IT services company ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corp (CTC) to bring together DRT and MaaS in order to ease the flow of traffic in the streets of Nogata.
DRT and MaaS technology will enable users with Android and iOS applications to plan, book and calculate fares for multi-modal routes that start or end with a DRT trip, incorporating all public transport options. It will provide a convenient and efficient solution that supports real time updates of DRT availability, virtual stops and operating hours.
Moreover, SkedGo’s solution integrates General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data so passengers can receive updates about their route, service timings and vehicle locations as well as probable delays due to traffic congestion. Meanwhile, the zone-based DRT provision connects with multiple first and last mile transport options and transport hubs. Japan’s micromobility subsegment is expected to see 78.7% CAGR from 2021-2030 to reach approximately $11.7 billion, according to P&S Intelligence.
In light of the worsening effects of carbon emissions, as manifested by the massive wildfires causing havoc in the US and parts of Europe, the benefits of MaaS in reducing the number of vehicleson the roads could be significant. As per IEA’s Empowering Cities for a Net-Zero Future report, urban transport accounts for 4 billion tonnes of CO2-eq, more than 40% of the transport sector’s total emissions.Urban mobility operators and authorities are constantly trying to find ways to facilitatethe transition of the transport sector from fossil-fuel to low-carbon modes.
Developing countries have the potential to make local mobility not only environmentally but also operationally sustainable by leveraging ICT-linked Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) amid the recent development of MaaS. In Japan, many companies are entering the MaaS space with autonomous vehicles, micromobility in metropolises, and other forms of ground transportation.