Smart Transport

Worldline to explore how transport data can deliver social good at Virtual Smart Transport Conference

Martin Howell

Fare reform, industry collaboration and developing trust with how customer data is shared will all be essential for progress with Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in the UK, according to Worldline.

Martin Howell, Worldline UK and Ireland director of transport markets, will present at this autumn’s Virtual Smart Transport Conference on day two of the three day event.

This year’s conference will be held virtually across October 20, 21 and 22 to help showcase solutions to government policy in the fast moving UK transport sector.

Worldline’s business links payments and location data to help make public transport more attractive to each individual customer.

Part of Howell’s remit is to grow Wordline’s business from being more rail focussed and into providing MaaS payment and data technology for the wider transport industry.

Howell said: “The central core of what I’ll be speaking about is that we believe Worldline can be a force for social mobility and societal good.

“Not because we’re a charity, but because if you do that the economy will grow.

“There is a profitable business to be had there, but it has to be fair and it has to be good for society.

“I don’t think necessarily that rail has been run with that motive in mind.”

Howell said that now the Government has ended rail franchising, there is a chance to approach things differently, with the need for a long term view and an end to short termism.

He also wants rail to be better integrated into the wider context of MaaS and for the Department for Transport (DfT) to move forward with “intelligent and creative” rail fare reform.

He said: “Rail is predominantly a middle class mode of transport.

“The industry is failing if lower income passengers either think they can’t or literally can’t afford to use our rail network.

“If we can then link rail with other modes of transport, suddenly you have opportunities that open up in education, employment and economic growth both individually and nationally. We have a role to play in that.”

MaaS success in the UK

Howell said MaaS has so far failed to gather enough pace because there has not been a centralised mind focussing on the overall picture.

This could come in an official position to head up MaaS more formally within the DfT, or from a leader within the industry, of which Worldline would gladly raise its hand.

Howell said cities like Helsinki have made progress due to having a figure like Sampo Hietanen (chief executive of MaaS Global), to develop the concept, take it forward and more importantly, taking the risks involved with trying something new.

Howell said: “We can’t stand around and wait for the market to think about how we’re going to make this work. There has to be a vision.

“There is too much short termism and transport has been developed too piecemeal. That can stifle innovation and limit creativity.

“Investments are expected to pay back in an unrealistically short time so decisions become timid. 

“We need a national infrastructure plan that looks at where we need to be in 50 years time and how we get there.”

Worldline’s vision of MaaS in the UK

For MaaS to really take off in the UK, Howell said it needs to deliver on “the time promise”.

This means customers using a MaaS solution must know with certainty they will get where they need to go on time, using the mode of transport best suited to their journey.

Howell said: “We need to develop a service that can show customers what their options are and to do that, you need to understand what their travel patterns are.

“For that to happen, they need to willingly surrender data about their movements. If you can do that in a secure way, you can enable genuine end-to-end journey planning.”

An intelligent journey planner will start to predict how people will travel and give proactive information to consumers and transport planners to help route the most efficient journey possible. Whether that’s e-scooters, ride-hailing services or the mass transit system.

Part of the challenge here is the continuing demonisation of companies using or in some cases misusing personal data, a perception which Howell thinks has gone too far in the negative direction.

He said: “The core of what will make MaaS really work for people is around sharing customer data.

“People need to feel comfortable sharing their data and there has to be the trust that it will be used for good, rather than evil.”

The industry has a part to play in helping change that mindset and it’s something Howell thinks may end up with “some toes being trodden on”.

Howell added: “There is still a fundamental argument to be resolved on who gets to own customer data.

“I believe the customer data belongs to the people who created it.

“The fact each individual company has captured that data and wants to own it and not share it is neither here nor there.

“The data should be used for the benefit of society, not just the generation of profit.

“If we continue to take that self interested attitude, we’re not going to get anywhere.”\

To gain access to all of the presentations across the Virtual Smart Transport Conference and more you can register for FREE entry

Key topics to be discussed across the three day event include:

  • Impact of Covid-19 and decarbonisation of the freight industry
  • Strategic placemaking - integrating place and mobility, ‘levelling up’ towns
  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in the real world: The projects and trials that prove the use case
  • Decarbonising mobility - What have we learnt from Covid-19?
  • Liveable streets, cities and towns after the lockdown
  • Bringing together public and private sector to enable innovation
  • Tackling transportation challenges with big data
  • Public transport and shared mobility

Watch now: Connecting Policy To Solutions Virtual Conference 2021

Smart Transport Conference returned on June 8th & 9th, to facilitate pivotal discussions on the future of transport. 

The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry. Watch his presentation below:


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