Responding to the Transport Committee Report, on 18th February 2019, the government endorses the belief that ‘we are on the cusp of a profound change in how we move people, goods and services around our towns, cities and countryside’ and that MaaS poses an ‘important opportunity and challenge for the government’. It says this is one of the reasons why the Future of Mobility was identified as one of the Four Grand Challenges in the government’s Industrial Strategy.
It accepts that realising a MaaS-based transport system ‘will rely on large-scale technological, cultural and market changes’ which ‘may prove difficult to achieve’. But the Department for Transport was keen to pursue the benefits and work closely with companies and local authorities in experiencing development of new business models first-hand, including funding trials to understand the impact of MaaS systems, the role of local authorities and public attitudes.
Soon after its response to the Committee, the Department for Transport on 19th March published a ‘Future of Urban Mobility strategy’, further exploring its thinking on MaaS.
This confirmed details of its £90 million project for ‘Future Mobility Zone’ trials in up to three cities as provided for in the 2018 budget, in addition to a £20 million pre-allocation already made to the West Midlands for an FMZ. This funding is ‘intended to target improved service integration, payment mechanisms and mobility data as well as trials of new modes and business models, enabling a variety of MaaS approaches to be tested’.
Applications by a competitive process to all eligible for the DfT’s Transforming Cities Fund were invited in the summer of 2019, and a shortlist of seven authorities announced in July, with further guidance on final submissions. Submission deadline was 23rd September, and a decision is expected this autumn on the three selected recipients who will share a £70 million allocation.
The Department stresses that its interest is not just in new mobility concepts for urban areas and that it will also explore how rural areas will benefit from innovation through a future of rural mobility strategy. The government’s response to the Transport Committee report also says that as part of the Future Mobility Grand Challenge, it has ‘committed to undertaking a thorough regulatory review of all relevant legislation to ensure that the UK has one of the most open and enabling environments for new mobility services, whilst being able to anticipate potential negative impact of unregulated disruptors in transport’.
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