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Looking Back at 2020 &

Forward to the Year Ahead

Looking Back at 2020 and Forward to the Year Ahead

The Mobility-as-a Service (MaaS) ecosystem is built on the premise of unifying available mobility options in a manner that allows travelers to discover and select their ideal options for a trip based on personal and contextual relevant attributes including time, cost and mode, among others. However, in the current COVID-19 landscape, traditional MaaS practices fall short of addressing traveler needs and concerns; used car sales are soaring, transit ridership is down, and while telecommuting has always been a viable alternative, the pandemic has served as launching pad for working remotely.  In recent months, members of the Metropia team were asked to share their experience and thoughts alongside other transportation leaders in a number of virtual mobility conferences addressing the rapidly shifting MaaS landscape as well as the evolving responses to the mobility challenges posed by COVID-19.

In August of last year, Metropia's Mobility Partnerships Manager, Danny Silva, served as moderator to the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) International conference on-demand session: “Pivoting the Mobility-on-Demand Development for Post COVID-19 Behavior Change.” This session invited speakers to discuss the challenges of developing MaaS or comparable programs as employer scheduling policies and commuter traveler behavior changes in response to COVID-19. How do they collect data to understand the changing commuter behavior and needs, and how do those considerations shape adjustments to their MaaS service offerings and program characteristics?  

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In April of 2020, Dr. Vassilis Papayannoulis, Vice President at Metropia, presented a Social Carpooling Behavior Analysis at ACT’s Emerging Mobility Virtual Summit. The study was a joint project with ICF, Inc. and conducted as part of FHWA’s Shared Mobility Incentives study. While the analysis was based on data collected utilizing Metropia’s Drive Up Occupancy (DUO) feature pre-COVID, it offered some insights on factors affecting social carpooling that may be relevant in a post-pandemic environment. Metropia’s behavior research continues in 2021 with FHWA’s Smartphone Travel Incentive study, a joint project with ICF, Inc. The study seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the factors influencing individual travel decisions at different times and for a range of trip purposes.

In conjunction with its behavior research, Metropia continued enhancement of its MaaS platform with new functionalities throughout 2020. Like many MaaS platforms, Metropia’s provides travelers with convenient multimodal/ intermodal trip planning and transit payment options, however its unique approach recognizes that drivers—particularly single occupant drivers--will continue to dominate U.S. roadways into the foreseeable future. That foundation allows the platform to transcend the limitations of traditional MaaS concepts by introducing a unique behavior engine to actively engage and influence drivers towards adopting alternative mobility options. Targeted behavior change campaigns leverage artificial intelligence to identify a traveler’s ability and motivation to shift departure time or mode then employs behavioral psychology to persuade the desired action. The expanded features and functionalities are expected to support current and future deployments, including Metropia’s Houston ConnectSmart project. The enhanced platform is expected to debut in the Apple and Google Play stores in early Spring 2021.

While Metropia continued to improvise and innovate to support our clients this past year, we would be remiss if we didn’t thank our clients for supporting us. We are looking forward to a healthy 2021 and a return to some sense of normality in the year ahead.

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