The Department for Transport (DfT) has published a code of practice for mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), saying it will ensure that travel and navigation apps work for the benefit of the public.
The guidance encourages app platform providers to consider accessibility needs, such as wheelchair accessibility and step-free options, when suggesting routes, and recommends that app providers consider the personal safety of users.
For example, apps should enable people to choose options to use only main roads or keep to well lit roads. They should also be able to share their live location with a contact while on the move.
Further recommendations including ensuring that apps consider users in rural areas where internet connectivity could make it difficult to access online journey planning. As part of this, platforms are encouraged to offer offline options such as a phone number for ordering taxis.
Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman MP said: “New technologies are transforming how we travel, making journeys easier for those with disabilities and connecting rural towns and villages better, among much else.
“With the new code of practice, the DfT is encouraging app providers to make the most of the new technology, helping to ensure potentially vulnerable groups and communities are not left behind.”
The guidance says MaaS is still in its infancy worldwide, but that trials and small scale deployments are building an understanding of the digital infrastructure needed, and a code of practice can help to mitigate unintended consequences in the emergence of MaaS platforms. This can help them to grow without regulations holding back innovation.
Its recommendations cover sections on accessibility and inclusion, enabling active and sustainable travel, the relevant data considerations, multimodal ticketing, consumer protection and competition.
Specific points include that platforms provide users with information on savings in CO2 emissions from walking or cycling, that they display active travel choices for routes, accessibility features are tested with users, key types of data shared are shared under the Open Government Licence, and platform providers should reciprocate data sharing where possible.
The document says a further transport data strategy will set out a vision for how the DfT will improve the discoverability, accessibility and quality of transport data, that MaaS schemes will be tested as part of its rural transport strategy, and the department will champion the future of MaaS solutions to reduce car dependency.
The publication prompted a positive response from the Urban Mobility Partnership, a coalition of organisations focused on the improvement of urban mobility.
Its chair, James Lancaster, said: “The Urban Mobility Partnership welcomes the publication of this important document that has the potential to be a springboard for MaaS solutions and in delivering innovative projects that can transform the way people move around and will help driving the UK forward as leaders in smart and sustainable mobility.
“It is vital that recommendations from the code of practice are recognised by transport planners and local authorities in their plans for MaaS solutions to ensure they are delivered in a way that places the consumer at its heart.”
He added: “As MaaS continues to evolve, so should the code of practice and we are delighted to see the Department for Transport recognise that today’s publication is just the first step. The Urban Mobility Partnership looks forward to continuing to work with government and stakeholders to deliver solutions that benefits transport users.”