COVID-19 is changing systematically and with a fast pace the daily travel agenda. Could it reshape the future of the mobility business?

This is and English version of the post on MaaS and its response to covid-19 in Poland; initially written for Observatorium Politiky Miejskiej (Urban Policy Observatory)

Not tha long time ago in the post called Redefining public transport I was questioning the role of new mobility-shared services in the future of our transport.

My point was, that no matter how smart or pro-ecological they are (trying to be), we can not forget about public transport.

Maybe, if I would upload the post just a week later, I would do a tiny adjustments in the title as well as in the main text.

Redefining public transport - how coronavirus will reshape the industry?

So even though that we should be questioning the role of new shared-mobility services in the future scheme of a transport system. Notably, not forgetting about public transport. The coronavirus epidemic might reshape the business faster then we thought.

Here are some quick observation of the shared-mobility market in Poland.

  • Panek carsharing offers free rides via its “Helpsharing” initiative
  • provide a free pass to their service for scouts and discounts for the restaurants to make deliveries
  • Voom and Wheelmee are joining the Mobilne Miasto manifest by offering to other shared-mobility providers to integrate them into their system for free

Those are just some of the quick reactions on how the mobility field tries to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Could it reshape the future of the mobility business?

As a result of home-quarantine and social-distancing, many people join the #stayathome call and drastically limited their day-to-day activities only for the basic. Grocery shopping, doctors appointments or a quick walk with a dog are in those days the common mobility strategies as the government recommends it.

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Unfortunately, not all of the people could work from home, which leaves them with the decision on how to get to work.

Public transportation operators have reduced their operation to almost minimum, usually using off-peak schedules like during weekends, holiday etc. As an addition, social-distancing inside is recommended to limit the risk of spreading the virus and being infected. Mentioned restrictions already have their imprints in ridership decrease and loose in ticket-revenue.

Reduced demand in public transport is also the result of different travel preferences. People who have to move daily around the city prefer to use individual means o transport, where the risk of being exposed is limited.

As Wheelmee, the mobility services aggregator and route planner mentioned recently, there is a growing demand in finding whatever way how to get from A to B without having brand preferences. Panek reports on increased activity of car-sharing between cities, as buss-operators limited their operation too. In such a state integration of mobility services must proceed. Otherwise, users will get lost in the offer.

The shift in individuals preferences signalizes the future trajectory of transport development, where digital collaboration and integration is already replacing the competition. Current coronavirus pandemic demands quick and fast responses, but at the same time, it’s an opportunity to re-think a redefine the future of the transport system. Sooner or later, we will get to the point, when urgent measures have to be replaced by long-term conceptual changes.

What will be the role of MaaS services and public transport within this new system is at the moment not sure. Still, policy authorities should use this situation and be a leader of the future reform within a mobility field.