BG Writes:

Thanks for the essay David.

I think we are headed in the wrong direction if we see MaaS as a way of bundling the sustainable transport options with the unsustainable ones such as the car. The built-in distortions of the present system will simply be amplified as people continue to game the system for their personal advantage. 

What we fundamentally lack is a robust road-user charging system that takes full account of the externalities, including the limited capacity of the atmosphere to safely absorb CO2 emissions. The "right to drive" is as endemic to Australian culture as that and so many other "rights" are in the USA. We need not elaborate.I should pay to drive my car on the roads, just as I pay for food from the supermarket, electricity from the grid, or water from the tap.

Even if we can't bring ourselves to support comprehensive road-user-charging, we should at least be mandating the means to collect that data in all new vehicles. It's not necessary to encroach on people's privacy to do that. We do not need to track the detailed movement of every vehicle as a GPS based system might do. I envisage a simple on-board odometer that can be read using wireless technology. This is well within our technological capacity, and would not add significantly to the cost of a vehicle. It would be no more invasive of one's privacy than it is to read a gas or electricity meter.

The beauty of such an approach is that roadside odometer readers could be placed at cordon locations and jurisdictional boundaries in the same way that e-tag readers are currently deployed on toll roads. Motorist and Truck owners could be charged directly by the local authorities for the wear and tear as well as the congestion and emissions they cause within that jurisdiction. A simple, fair and neat way around all the gas-tax arguments. Lots more benefits if we use that for pay-as-you-drive insurance, eliminating annual car registration charges and tracking stolen vehicles.

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Jun 14, 2023Liked by David M Levinson

The data doesn't lie. Whim itself has found that taxi demand is indeed increased, walking and cycling decrease and PT barely changes. People do use shared cars a bit more as well. That is not a conceptual problem as you rightly say. It is a markets execution problem. Public transport is a market failure in which governments provide the difference between cost and demand. Supplements to public transport clearly struggle to make coin. The collapsing micromobility market in the absence of unthinking venture capital IPO potential demonstrates the mirage. The question that the managers of our public monies must then ask - what is the public benefit that micromobility options bring, what are the options to deliver those benefits and how much are we willing to pay to have those benefits? We may well end up with publicly tendered service models again. That said, the venture capitalist disruption shook people from their sleep and opened eyes to thinking about access and mobility. Even if most of it fails, it succeeded in breaking apart corrupted old models. As every business becomes some sort of data/financial services provider the big players will as you suggest be waiting to strike, to hover up at bargain prices any viable market. But the pickings may be slim! I regret everyday that the Minister of the day in New South Wales would not take the Visa/Mastercard offer and insisted that we enable cash. That cost the State more than a billion dollars for no additional service. It would have been cheaper to offer free travel for those considered reliant on cash (benefits recipients).

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Aug 11, 2023·edited Aug 11, 2023Liked by David M Levinson

"MaaS Hysteria". The app proposed is essentially what Citymapper already does in London (and which they tried to expand in scope with in-house private DRT, unsuccessfully).

Citing the cartel of payment card schemes (Visa/MC/Amex/CUP) as an example of a good way forward is problematic; as it allows a cartel to "toll" MaaS offerings. Ditto with other digital wallets (e.g. Wechat, PayPal etc.)

Open data, standardised APIs, and standardised NFC cards (e.g. ITSO) will be key to a way forward for MaaS competition and portability across cities; payment needs to happen but multiple options need to be supported to avoid lockin (including holding money on account with the MaaS service provider, which, again Citymapper kind of does in London with their Pass scheme although needs to use MC to make that operate practically--the Pass is actually a locked down MC NFC debit card that can drive contactless transport fare gates etc. but can't be used for more general payments, and the funding is "brokered" by Citymapper.)

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