“A Spotify of transport” which provides all the travel you need for a single monthly fee is being planned for Scotland. In a similar way to the online music streaming service, everything from bus and train tickets to car and cycle hire is provided via a mobile phone app. Users can plan and book journeys using a variety of transport, then download tickets to their phone.
MaaS Global, which launched its Whim service in Helsinki last year and Birmingham last month, is now looking at potential expansion to Edinburgh and/or Glasgow. MaaS Global CEO Sampo Hietanen said that the Whim app could lead to users no longer needing their own car. In Birmingham, subscribers pay a monthly fee – currently an introductory £349 – for unlimited access to public transport, taxis or a hire car.
MaaS Global is a member of the separate MaaS Scotland, which is part of pilots such as the NaviGoGo app in Dundee, which enables 16 to 25-year-olds to plan and book journeys. Hietanen explained that Edinburgh and Glasgow were the obvious places to start in Scotland, initially “targeting the ‘car-hesitants’ – those who can live without it”.
Apaar Tuli, the firm’s product design lead, said fewer young people were owning cars, but admitted it might not suit everyone. He said: “Cars are still status symbols – switching from a shiny thing in your driveway to something in your phone won’t cut it for some people. It won’t happen overnight.”
George Hazel, a former Edinburgh transport chief who advises MaaS Scotland, said: “MaaS shifts the focus of transport provision from a top-down operations-based service to one based on the needs of the user – to create a personalised mobility package for people and businesses.”
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “We would be happy to participate in an initiative to explore the potential to deliver new and alternative ways to travel to and around Glasgow.“
Inverclyde SNP MP Ronnie Cowan, a member of the Commons transport committee which is examining MaaS, said: “Helsinki has a system up and running which is undoubtedly more science fact than fiction, but will require connected digital technology and collaboration to make it happen.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We support the innovation shown by MaaS Scotland and others in taking forward MaaS pilot projects. “We are interested in understanding how MaaS can help to deliver the government’s purpose of inclusive and sustainable economic growth.”