31 jan 20

Why the marriage of Cubic and Moovit is a big deal for MaaS

Ease of use is crucial for the success of Mobility as a Service. That’s why the partnership between Cubic and Moovit, announced at the start of January, is such a big deal: it brings together two global players in the fields of transit payment and transit planning, respectively. “We’ll create a truly frictionless experience,” promises Yovav Meydad (pictured), Chief Growth & Marketing Officer at Moovit.

For MaaS to work, a lot of things must converge, connect and aggregate. Transport for Greater Manchester is the latest large public transport provider to start a pilot that brings planning and payment together (see below). On a global scale, the partnership concluded earlier this year between Cubic and Moovit may turn out to be the pivot towards a mass MaaS movement.

Simplify mobility
Introduced in 2012, Moovit’s mission statement is to simplify urban mobility all over the world. In the years since, the Israeli company has built the world’s largest transit information database, aided by 660,000 ‘Mooviters’, who contribute their local knowledge. Moovit has created the world’s most popular urban mobility app, serving 680 million users in 3,000 cities across 98 countries. 

Because of its army of volunteer contributors and its global reach, Moovit has been called the ‘Wikipedia of transportation’, but it does much more. 

“Public transportation is fraught with a lot of uncertainty: When will my bus arrive? Will I be affected by interruptions in the metro service? Moovit provides this transit information based not only on the APIs of public transit authorities; we also rely on users to report information: The timetable of this line has changed, the bus stop has been moved from here to there, etcetera. That’s how our app is able to provide information on the actual situation of public transport, not just how it should be according to the schedule.”

Global pioneer
Uniquely, Moovit is not just an innovator, but a global pioneer in mapping urban transport. “In 2019, we launched in more than 300 cities worldwide, and 87% of those were places that were mapped entirely by the Mooviter community. Overall, Moovit is present in more than 3,000 cities across the globe. Around 70% of those were mapped first by our community. Before us, the only transit information in those places were paper schedules. And that is the big differentiator with our competitors, most of which only focus on the world’s biggest cities, where only official data from the authorities is available.”

Moovit is the snowball that became an avalanche. Because of the extent and the accuracy of its coverage, 1.2 million users join its community every single day – in an entirely organic manner. “We’re not paying a single dollar to generate user acquisition,” Mr Meydad remarks. By the end of 2021, Moovit expects to hit one billion users.

About two years ago, with its growth trajectory firmly established, Moovit started thinking next-level business model. The company looked at its four main assets:

  • Its user base (now 680 million and counting);
  • The multi-modal trip planner (not just public transport, but also taxis, and newer options such as carpooling, ridesharing and micromobility);
  • The transit and urban mobility information database (world’s largest and most accurate); and
  • Its repository of data on people movements (aggregated and anonymised).

MaaS suite
“Based on those pillars, over the past two years we developed a suite of MaaS solutions, which can be tailor-made and customised to fit the customer’s needs,” says Mr Meydad. That suite entails:

  • Branded apps (white-label versions of the Moovit app);
  • Integration with mobile payment and ticketing;
  • On-demand fleet management of transit services;
  • Urban mobility analytics;
  • Plug-and-play real-time vehicle location systems for bus fleets;
  • MaaS APIs to enhance customer products with Moovit data.

It’s along this journey that the partnership with Cubic – a customer of Moovit’s transit APIs – came to be. Cubic is the world’s leading specialist in mobile ticketing, fare collection and management solutions for public transport systems. Its technology powers the fares and payment aspects of the Oyster card used by Transport for London, the OmniCard you need to hop on the New York metro, and does the same for many other major public transport systems around the world. 

“Our vision for MaaS, in a word, is aggregation. We want to aggregate as many options as possible for managing, planning and paying for trips. Doing this with Cubic is a major step. Together, we can advance the capabilities of public transit agencies and fleets in many large regions. We have also collaborated and partnered with ticketing providers and governments on a local level. In Israel, for example, we won a tender from the Ministry of Transport to collaborate with other mobile ticketing companies to create a seamless and highly differentiated user experience for riders.”

Ease of use
Through aggregation, Moovit aims to achieve ease of use. Transport users must have easy access to all transport options available in any given place. “Only then will users adapt their behaviour, leave their car at home, and instead use public transportation, plus all the shared and micromobility options available. That’s where we need to go if we want to fight pollution and congestion and want our cities to become liveable and safer.”

So, how will the end-users notice that Cubic and Moovit have struck this deal? “Moovit will be providing Cubic with our rich set of APIs, which will be added to Cubic’s Traveller app. Users will have a richer travel experience: they will get service alerts, see live arrivals, can explore everything nearby a given location, and will be able to plan a multimodal trip.” Cubic’s own unique input will then enable customers to seamlessly pay for their travels.

The marriage of planning and payment will be a happy one, predicts Mr Meydad, because both partners will gain from each other’s complementary skills. The ultimate winner, though, is the user: “Cubic and Moovit will leverage their strong capabilities to create a truly frictionless experience, from planning to payment. And that will ultimately be what drives people to adopt MaaS as an alternative for car use.”

Private customers
Moovit’s usual customer base includes not just urban transit authorities, but also private fleet operators – sometimes but not necessarily operating a public transit franchise. 

“Imagine an AVL system for buses – hardware that transmits signals to an operations centre, so the fleet manager is aware of the vehicle’s position. Those systems are often used for theft remediation, not for exact arrival prediction. We can offer those predictions even without that hardware, to agencies that will equip drivers with a smartphone or tablet that has the TimePro drive app installed. Through TimePro, speed and arrivals can be calculated. This increases the trust and satisfaction of the end-user of such a bus service.”

Another product targeting the private sector is an On-Demand mobility solution. “Say, you’re the manager of a large university or corporate campus and you want to offer an on-demand shuttle service. We have the software you need to do this – up to and including the option to provide financial incentives to the users of the service.”

If MaaS truly is the future of mobility, it’s extremely likely that Moovit and/or Cubic will be the movers and shakers behind your local transport solution. 

Manchester is IMOVE’s newest Living Lab

At the end of 2019, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) introduced IMOVE, a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) pilot project that integrates the city’s different modes of transport. 

Powered by FleetOnDemand’s Mobilleo app, IMOVE provides commuters and other travellers in Manchester with real-time information on and on-demand access to car hire, car clubs, trains, buses, trams and TfGM’s own Local Link Service. 

Customers can conveniently plan, book and pay for each journey using only IMOVE’s digital platform. Payment options include pay-as-you-go and subscriptions. The MaaS platform is designed to encourage people to leave their car at home, and try shared and multimodal travel, and/or walking and cycling – thus also helping to reduce congestion. 

In its pilot phase, IMOVE will generate data that will help TfGM evaluate the benefits of MaaS and detect barriers to its effective deployment throughout the Greater Manchester area. 

Partly funded by the EU, IMOVE is designed to speed up the uptake of MaaS schemes throughout Europe. Similar IMOVE projects are being piloted in four other European Living Labs – Berlin, Madrid, Turin and Gothenburg.

Authored by: Frank Jacobs