Three transport organisations have laid out what they see as the base principle for European authorities looking to advance their transport services in the future.
In a joint statement, UITP, POLIS and The Association of European Metropolitan Transport Authorities (EMTA) have outlined key principles for the digital integration of transport services across Europe.
All three associations identify core challenges any European regulatory framework must confront while preserving the public value of public transport services.
As Europe’s transport sector pursues the sustainability objectives outlined in the European Commission’s Green Deal, the digital integration of transport modes enabled by the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept can support this.
While UITP, POLIS and EMTA welcome such innovation, the organisations have called for a central role for public authorities in the governance of the MaaS ecosystem.
This will ensure that digital solutions support, rather than undermine the key role of public transport as backbone of urban mobility – and the rights of all citizens to affordable and accessible transport services are not diluted.
“The public transport sector is fully committed to the digital transition and embraces the MaaS concept,” said Thomas Avanzata, Senior Director of UITP Europe.
“With effective governance, integrated mobility solutions can help make the sector more attractive and competitive. In that sense, public transport authorities have a key role to play to organise mobility in their own territory and make sure citizens benefit from sustainable mobility solutions.”
The three associations warn local diversity, and the instrumental role of public authorities must be recognised. Given the specific needs and characteristics of each country, region or city, any regulation or policy initiative must respect the democratic legitimacy and policy context of local/regional transport authorities.
They say that effective governance is essential to unite economic and sustainability objectives.
“MaaS heralds a new era of transport service commoditisation,” added Suzanne Hoadley, Senior Manager & Traffic Efficiency Coordinator, Polis.
“While it may create new opportunities for users and operators, it could also lead to adverse effects, as demonstrated by many other popular digital platforms. Cities and their mobility systems are not playgrounds for digital businesses. Effective and public-principled governance frameworks are needed to ensure all stakeholders benefits from MaaS.”
The importance of an equitable fare structure has also been identified by the coalition as an area for focus. According to the three organisations, users should be placed at the centre of concerns in the calls for improved customer services.
To ensure fairness and a balanced market development, the statement asserts that any regulation or policy initiative must be applicable to all types of mobility operators and not be limited to public undertakings.
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