There has been a lot of talk recently about the UK keeping to its sustainability goals to meet its 2050 targets, but it’s important to remember that the growth and development of the micro and shared mobility sector is still very much in motion.  

According to a recent study by McKinsey, car sales are expected to drop significantly in 2035 as governments around the world introduce a range of new schemes and policies designed to reduce private car ownership, from extended cycle networks to increased driving-related charges. Electric vehicle adoption is expected to rise too, with the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics saying that 44% of petrol, diesel and hybrid drivers said they were either likely or very likely to switch to an all-electric vehicle in the next ten years.   

Additionally, there is increased investment in alternative modes of public transport or shared mobility options. Cars will be replaced by new, more convenient and sustainable forms of mobility. The value of the global micro-mobility market – the use of e-bikes, e-scooters, and very small cars – could more than double by 2030 to around $440 billion. While in the UK, the e-scooter-sharing market has a projected volume of $154.1 million by 2027.   

Other forms of shared mobility, such as car sharing or automatic shuttles, could generate up to $1 trillion in consumer spending by 2030. Robo-shuttles, modular mobility pods that perform public transportation, will increase their passenger miles travelled (PMT) share to 8% by 2035. In China, these innovative services are expected to grow by 22%, reaching 24% of the total mobility share.   

With all this market growth, there are lots of opportunities for wider businesses to get involved and discover new revenue streams too.  

The benefits of multimodal transport systems  

The successful transformation of UK public transport will depend on the integration of different modes of transport. In other words, making it as easy as possible for people to move seamlessly between train, tram, e-bikes and other modes. By offering the general public diversified and flexible choices for their individual needs, they will be encouraged to engage in more environmentally friendly and smarter travel solutions.   

Such changes promise to reduce carbon emissions from urban traffic as well as the percentage of land allocated to parking spaces whilst simultaneously increasing the volume of green areas. The micro and shared mobility evolution is in full swing, reflecting the desire of citizens to opt for more ecological and environmentally friendly mobility choices.   

To make this happen, it is essential to create a more intelligent, connected and sustainable mobility infrastructure. And this all comes down to the effective management of data between the various parties and systems.  

Open data  

The UK government’s Transport Data Strategy provides the blueprint for transport sector stakeholders to coalesce and utilise the power of open data to grow the economy, reduce environmental impact and improve transport for the end user.   

The most efficient integrated transport systems combine IT architectures and modular digital platforms to deliver a seamless mobility experience. Passengers can access real-time routes, timetables and available transport modes through mobile applications or interactive displays at stations. In this way, each travelling citizen can make informed decisions and choose the optimal route of travel based on current traffic conditions.  

Beyond the role of getting from A to B, there is a huge opportunity to involve external stakeholders from outside the mobility sector to create new services and revenue streams. Third parties from sectors as diverse as leisure, hospitality, finance, insurance and retail will be able to integrate their products and services for the purpose of improving the commuter experience. For example, this could mean partnering with museums, car rental services or hotels to seamlessly blend complementary services with mobility needs.   

To do so requires modern digital platforms that can facilitate and accelerate integration within the mobility ecosystem via having standardised and, therefore, compatible data between systems.   

Key challenge – standardising data  

The integration of new streams of data into the mobility ecosystem poses the challenge of standardisation. Interoperability and communication between companies that operate in completely different sectors is only possible if the data in the exchange can be read and actioned on both sides of the line, and this is no small task.   

The UK is undergoing many initiatives to improve the amount of third-party data that is made available, along with standardising communication through the introduction of new digital products and services. The national public transport access nodes (NaPTAN), the current dataset for all public transport access points in the UK, is being re-developed to be more scalable for future transport needs, which includes referencing EV chargepoint locations.  

Furthermore, to help challenge the fragmented nature of rail data due to siloes and a complex network of private and renationalised rail services, the UK government introduced the Rail Data Marketplace project in June 2021. This enables the sharing of real-time rail data through a diverse product catalogue that includes details on the fastest departures, cheapest fares and availability of taxis at the station, for example. Open to publishers and users, the Rail Data Marketplace offers the prospect of better passenger journeys and an accessible experience for all, unlocking operational efficiencies.  

Such transformation is not just limited to the UK. In the EU, there are now proposals in place to introduce various technical standards for data exchange to standardise communication between different players, such as NeTEx (Network Timetables Exchange) and SIRI (Service Interface for Real-Time Information).  In addition to these protocols, there are also de facto standards, adopted through common use, which are recognised globally and widely used in the mobility sector, such as GFTS (General Transit Feed Specification), GFTS-RT (General Transit Feed Specification Real-Time) and TOMP (Transport Operators and MaaS Providers).   

Taking steps towards digital transformation in mobility  

Transportation companies need to address the technological challenge of enabling accurate and efficient data sharing in accordance with current standards to maximise integration opportunities with partners. To achieve this goal, public transport stakeholders require modular, integrated mobility digital platforms that allow the adoption of an omnichannel approach and that facilitate the integration of new digital channels and services.   

The mobility ecosystem is on a path toward digital transformation, so it’s time to create the best digital environment with open data in order to manifest a public transport system that supports the customer experience while reducing environmental impact.