“We don’t need MaaS [Mobility as a Service],” Luis Lezama, director of technology development at the Ministry of Communications and Transportation in Mexico and a member of the advisory board for Intertraffic Mexico, boldly stated. “We have to start at the beginning, and begin with implementing standardized technological solutions on all large infrastructural projects in the coming years. We therefore need to have more international traffic technology companies take the opportunity of the Mexican market’.
And he’s right. If you have ever been to Mexico City you will have had an eye-opening experience. It’s the sort of great, vibrant city that you would expect from a Latin American country, with extremely nice people – but also with extremely big traffic problems.
Research from TomTom shows that Mexico City is one of the most congested in the world. The average speed for motorized vehicles is 7.4mph (12 km/h) and there are around 480,000 car accidents each year – in that one city…
In the last two years, I’ve traveled to Mexico City four times, ahead of the first Intertraffic Mexico show, which is taking place in November 2016. Based on my own experiences there, I can confirm that TomTom is right. The term ‘gridlock’, introduced by Sam Schwarz (Google him) can certainly be applied to Mexico City; almost every intersection – I don’t exaggerate – is blocked by cars going in every direction.
One of the main mobility challenges in Mexico City is that the growth in travel demand has not been served with an adequate network of public transport infrastructure. In Mexico City, more than 60 million people use public transport for transportation, and just 22 million use their car. From an efficiency point of view, there is room for improvement. Mexico City has fundamental infrastructural problems and therefore, in order to solve them, they will have to start with the basis.
That’s why I totally agree with Luis Lezama’s comments, “We need international knowledge and technological solutions to solve our problems. It’s about building a solid foundation; that means good safer roads, the standardization of technological applications and better public transit. If we make this our long-term vision, Mexico City will be an even more exciting city to live in because it will have less air pollution and it will be much more sustainable.
“If we achieve this, then we will work towards MaaS, because we will have made progress. Companies like Uber will have a much more beneficial business model, too.”
'Our man in Amsterdam' Richard Butter is manager of Intertraffic worldwide events
Any congested city with a high number of personally-owned vehicles that are used to commute in the city would benefit tremendously from MaaS. The reason is that MaaS allows a growing fraction of people to stop owning cars. Your words: “almost every intersection – I don’t exaggerate – is blocked by cars going in every direction.”
Car-owners that become non-owners because of an effective MaaS system fill empty seats in other vehicles (cars, buses, bikes, taxis), and take away vehicles that park on streets and further obstruct traffic. If Mexico City insisted on a MaaS that included P2P ride-sharing the benefits would be even greater. While I am sure any city, including Mexico City, could do with “a solid foundation; that means good safer roads, the standardization of technological applications and better public transit”, I heartily disagree that you “don’t need MaaS”. I cannot help thinking that Luis Lezama, is thinking that MaaS somehow adds more vehicles. It does not. The entire goal of MaaS is to reduce the number of vehicles circulating in the system so that Mexico would be less “blocked by cars going in every direction”. See the maas.global site for an example.
It is actually true what Bern is saying. That is why we want to reward users when making greener choices (for example if you walk, bike or use public transport enough during the month, you’ll get a Tesla or something else tempting for a weekend). We want to offer complete set of mobility and through that an alternative to owning a private car. No other current service provider can compete alone with car ownership and that is why we need an ecosystem to do that. I highly believe that if you have an easy access to different modes of transport at the same time and you don’t need to choose if you buy your travel card for public transport OR buy a car, and services are paid in advance, you will hop on public transport when it is just much easier option for you.
Now, even if you would have tram stop just on front of you and tram just arriving there, but you are owning a car and your parking time is ending in 30 minutes, you can not jump inside the tram - and you will not even think of doing it, even it would be much faster option to you (and at the same time, you would be able to spend that time sitting in a tram reading e.g. latest news or e-mails from your phone) - you just need to walk back to your car and jump behind the wheel and drive to your destination. And have to say, if you offer only public transport for a person that used to be a car owner, it is totally not enough. You need to offer access also to a car so person will have an opportunity to use it when needed. If your tram ticket is paid in advance and tram stop is the closest to you, why wouldn’t you jump to the tram. Now, even if we have mobile tickets available (at least in Helsinki), it is a bit hassle to start thinking how did you buy the ticket when you are in a hurry and did you have already your payment card there or do you need to add your personal details (just an example as I’ve seen this hassle happening lots of times with my colleagues).
Have to say, as being a millennial (not too many yet in this sector), I can honestly say that I don’t have any need for owning a car while living in a city. Once in a while, I could use it if needed as I have my driving license. I don’t actually have nerves enough to be stuck in traffic with a car.. I rather spend that time checking my social media to know how my friends are doing :) A bit addicted, I know.
Thanks Bern and Jonna, ofcourse you’re completely right and I’m sure Luis thinks the same. But it’s also kind of a mentality change and there in the middle of that now.