The European Commission has published the report of the Multimodal Passenger Mobility Forum (MPMF) on Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS). The MPMF was established by the Commission at the end of 2021 to support the development of EU policy on MDMS. The Commission identified three priority themes on which it sought views, around which three corresponding subgroups were formed.
The first thematic area dealt with the alignment of MDMS with the goals of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs), which included the provision of mobility data for public authorities' mobility management needs and the alignment of MDMS with the passenger transport authority’s (PTA’s) objectives.
In relation to the transfer of data from the MDMS provider to the public authority, so-called business-government (B2G) data sharing, some of the key findings were:
- Most B2G data-sharing practices today are mainly of a bilateral nature between individual modal operators (e.g. e-scooter or bus operators) and public authorities. Data sharing from MDMS providers to public authorities is limited due to the small size of the MDMS sector.
- Commercial/third-party MDMS providers are wary of sharing data with PTAs due to commercial sensitivities, as they view PTAs as competitors.
- A legal basis (at the national or EU level) should be established to allow B2G data sharing, in order to avoid potential problems (and lengthy negotiations) regarding the transfer of personal data and to ensure use cases are justified in terms of public interest.
- Four data-sharing use cases emerged: planning, sustainability, avoiding fraud, and customer service.
- It remains unclear whether a separate data-sharing channel should be created from a MDMS provider to a city authority in addition to the channel created with the PTA.
- Data protection is a key issue. Some use cases involve the transfer of personal data and will require special attention.
- Views on compensating MDMS providers for sharing data are mixed and largely depend on the use case. If adopted, FRAND (fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory) conditions should apply.
Regarding the alignment of MDMS with SUMPs:
- It is a difficult task to understand and define what it means to align MDMS with SUMPs in practice, given the variety of SUMPs implemented across Europe and the fact that these are expressed with high-level sustainability indicators.
- There is widespread acknowledgement that public authorities need to have agency to steer the implementation of any type of new mobility-related service to ensure that any potential negative effects can be addressed.
- There was near consensus on the mandatory inclusion of GHG emissions in information about trip options. However, there first needs to be a standardised method for calculating GHG emissions.
- There were differing views about the obligation to include active modes (walking and cycling) in MDMS offerings. Some held the view that this was a decision for the MDMS provider itself and should therefore be voluntary. The fact that few commercial MDMS services operating today include walking and cycling suggests that there is justification to go further. A compromise may be to set sustainable modes as the default option and to allow users to filter results.
- Another interesting policy measure put forward proposes that MDMS providers indicate how they are going to support a SUMP, through quantifiable indicators and self-declaration.
The second thematic area dealt with the broader issue of ‘facilitating cooperation between mobility operators and MDMS providers’, addressing points such as mobility operator data sharing (e.g. the quality, cost, and access conditions for this), having a unique identifier for access nodes, and the need for a harmonised application programming interface for MDMS.
The final subgroup addressed self-preferencing. The work that focussed on urban areas dealt with the 'Functional Urban Area' (FUA), which is the geographic scope of the daily trips of most travellers. However, the interurban/cross-border dimension arose many times during the information-gathering process, particularly in discussions with railway stakeholders. From the outset, the need to differentiate between different types of public authorities emerged (e.g. a PTA and a city authority), since they have different roles, responsibilities and jurisdictions. While the PTA, as the body responsible for procuring public transport, has been the main MDMS stakeholder to date, a role is starting to emerge for the city/regional authority, which decides on the transport policies and plans for the area, as expressed through its SUMP. However, it should be noted that in some FUAs, the PTA may have SUMP and data-gathering/analysis responsibilities.
The full report can be downloaded here.
Article published first at POLIS Network on 6 February 2023
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