Solent Transport, managing one of England’s four Future Transport Zones, launched Breeze: 'a super-app' in October 2022, initially focused mainly on micromobility. The app will undergo an expansion in January 2023, offering additional service providers, features and products expanding into a platform that combines all a user’s transport needs in one place.
Breeze currently offers e-scooter, pedal bike and e-bike sharing, from two separate providers, plus selected bus services, across Portsmouth, Southampton, and the Isle of Wight. Says Conrad Haigh, Solent Transport Manager: ‘The challenge with MaaS is that it means different things to different people. ‘But to me,’ says Haigh, ‘Breeze must be a one-stop shop; it's got to cover everything. And it must be customer focused.’
The initial version of Breeze offers selected services, but the platform will undergo a major update in January 2023. This will see national rail services, full coverage of the bus network, ferry tickets, and access to car club vehicles, along with new ticketing products across micro mobility and Solent Go multi-operator public transport ticketing.
Future updates planned for 2023 include DDRT (Dynamic Demand Responsive Transport), taxis, parking, ride sharing and ‘active trip functionality’ to help guide the user between modes during their journey.
Provides seamless travel and is all a user needs to take a journey: Journey Planning, transport information, ticket buying and ticket fulfilment in one place
Every mode of transport option in one place and the ability to plan, pay for and take multimodal journeys
Search and find the best journey option for you: cheapest, most environmental, quickest
Designed to be like a personal assistant to users of transport services throughout their journey
Customer Relations Management - enabling targeted behavior change, special offers and campaigns encouraging sustainable travel
Enables seamless customer journeys across modes via complex backroom tech integrations, making the complicated easy for the customer
Allows a portal through which complex multimodal journeys can be made whilst the back-office systems manage data, contracts, and copyright
Users access Breeze through their smartphone and data is exchanged with the Local Transport Authority partners and the specific service providers they use
All modes: Breeze can provide multi modal journeys options with price, time, and environmental impacts
It has been tested and benchmarked to be competitive against other similar apps in terms of usability, accessibility, and human factors
Bus, national rail, regional ferries
Solent Go, the regions multi operator ticketing options, micro mobility service rental
And more planned for future updates
Easy sign-up and authentication
Stored trips, cards, wallets, ID
CRM system allows targeted special offers to customers
Integrated payments using linked payment accounts or cards
Customers can pay for their multimodal journey from the Breeze app
The Breeze app is the ticket for the journey, no additional documentation required, tickets are stored in the wallet function
‘I’ll be frank,’ says Haigh. 'MaaS is complicated. It means different things to different people, but it is also frequently confused with ticketing and pricing strategies.
'The two can be complementary, but are different. MaaS is about the customer experience, the information, the ability to plan a journey, the ability to purchase that journey and fulfil the ticket, all within the app across all modes. It should also live track you through the elements of that journey, with Breeze you can see the bus you are catching coming to you on a map!'
Ticketing and pricing strategies are different, with the latter including functions such as Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG), carnets \ bundles and capping. These and much more can be done in MaaS apps easily and comparatively cheaply, but they are fundamentally different agreements \ arrangements with operators.
Solent Transport will be implementing some of these types of ticketing through the Breeze app, but as part of the Solent Go multi operator ticketing offering.
‘Breeze in its current Department for Transport scope (as a scheme funded by the Future Transport Zone and Transforming Cities funds), will stop short of ‘full’ Level 4 integration,' says Haigh.
At ‘Level 3’ Breeze will have the ability to plan, book and pay for a journey within the app, including Solent Go products and any combination of journeys on any modes. To a Breeze user, says Haigh, it will seem like an integrated journey, but we are using mainly traditional existing ticketing for now. This is partially due to the infrastructure with the mobility providers and regulatory regime not currentlly being able to deal with (PAYG) outside London, and possibly PTEs to some extent.
However, Breeze will still offer the customer their best-priced journeys across all available modes based on the journey planning request.
Beginning in 2000, Transport for London (TfL) integrated all public transport modes to provide end-to-end services; building a network from the fragmented patchwork of services it inherited, piece by piece. TfL operate a Tap on Tap off PAYG system.
A customer simply uses the tap in, tap out functionality and trusts that they get the cheapest fare for their trip within the TfL zones, whether they use they use tube, bus, or rail. Effectively, London runs on Level 4 ticketing but without an integrated app, journey planner and customer experience. The system is also limited to its own services, and rail within the capital, excluding taxis and some of the micromobility providers that operate within the TfL zone.
Breeze will deliver Level 3 integration across all the major transport service providers when it launches its expanded offer in January 2023. Whilst Breeze is primarily focused on services within the South Hampshire area and Isle of Wight, it could also be used to plan and book services such as rail and coach trips beyond the region, which TfL PAYG cannot.
Although new powers are coming to local authorities outside of London under devolution deals, the transport industry – with the exception of some PTEs – outside of London is just not ready for a full level 4 MaaS integration – especially when it comes to rail, says Haigh.
‘There is no dedicated license by which industry is allowed to offer these PAYG integrated services. We are working with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to try and create a licensing framework that will enable greater integration with Breeze, but existing licenses won't allow us to do that.’ The key element that is missing is the PAYG element for rail, and this will depend on evolving ticketing and pricing strategies within the industry, he explains.
It has been argued that rail is MaaS-ready due to LENNON, the mechanism by which the revenue taken through the networks are shared between operators. But for Solent Transport, this has not been the case. ‘Rail operators don’t have off-the-shelf products, such as suitable licenses or legal mechanisms, for enabling MaaS via selling PAYG services. What we've had to do is find a different mechanism to use for the present, and we're working quite closely with RDG to develop a new license type, but it’s at least 12 months away,' says Haigh.
Rail operators may be ready to share revenue, says Haigh, but there’s no appropriate framework for on-demand trips, as all tickets should be bought in advance – outside of a handful of services such as the journey from Gatwick airport to central London stations, for example.
Solent Transport is currently using a travel agent license to offer rail services via Breeze, as agreed with the RDG, but is hopeful that ongoing co-operation between Solent Transport and the RDG will create a better system in future.
Regarding integrating bus and ferry services into Breeze, says Haigh, Solent Transport has achieved this through collaborative working. ‘We've done it through partnership. We've got some good relationships and alliances across Solent Transport in the bus sector through SHBOA (South Hampshire Bus Operators Association).
'When we put the original Future Transport Zone bid in to the Department for Transport (DfT), we already had an agreement that all operators would participate. This is currently happening on a temporary trial basis but,’ says Haigh, ‘why would operators want to go backwards once they’ve made it so easy for customers to use their services? We have many operators in the region using different ticketing mechanisms, so it has been a complicated process, but it’s certainly all possible.’
When using Breeze, the customer relationship is primarily with Solent Transport, building trust in the system is essential, says Haigh. 'The well-used metaphor of the swan gliding silently and smoothly across the surface of the water, while its feet paddle frantically underneath, is an apt comparison for our delivery of Breeze.
'To the end user the experience will be simple, seamless, secure, transparent and elegant to use, while behind the scenes the tech and relationship management is working hard to deliver the sophisticated experience.'
Breeze’s back-office system will yield large quantities of mobility data for Solent Transport to analyse as it improves and develops the service. Other options may be available in future, says Haigh: ‘From a technology point of view, Breeze has the capability to do much more than is presently planned. For example, it can facilitate 'tap and go' technology or could have the capability to deliver insights into the where, when and – most importantly why – customer segments make the journeys they do, without relying on data from Tap on Tap off. All that capability is there, including searching for low carbon trips and the cheapest fares.’
Haigh is clear that a substantial amount of work and investment has gone in to developing and testing Breeze rigorously across the Solent region, working with tech companies, universities, operators, and consultants to create robust operational frameworks.
The idea is to be able to roll the service out to other English regions at minimal cost. ‘MaaS on this scale is something that a typical local transport authority could not simply pick up and deliver. The cost and complexity of developing and running these schemes is simply too great. We are working on translating what we have so it can work in other areas, which can then be fine-tuned on a local level.’
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