Transport services to improve the quality of life

When we talk about intelligent transport systems and services (ITS), we are used to addressing the topic through stages of automation and technological advances. However, the theme chosen for the ITS World Congress arranged in Copenhagen this week is Quality of Life. It challenges us to look for the connection between technology and human beings.

Finland and the Nordic countries have promoted the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) thinking that links the technological development with human-centred services. We believe that transport should be based on services and it should be customer-oriented. This was also the premise for the Transport Services Act that, for most parts, entered into force in summer 2018.

The use of transport services that have been integrated into smooth travel chains should be easy and inexpensive. They should surpass the use of a private car in terms of both the price and the quality of life. This also requires us, as users, to think differently – transport does not refer to a specific means of transport but is a service package that can be adjusted to meet our needs. MaaS does not mean that private motoring would be forbidden or made punishable – it aims to provide a genuinely competitive alternative for those who do not want to own a car.

Both the services and the regulation enabling them must be developed with the needs of the customer in mind. Topics of global discussion among the decision-makers and stakeholders in the sector include the security and rights of the new MaaS services. For example the European Commission has identified the need to secure the traveller’s rights in multimodal travel chains, if the trip bought by the end user consists of mobility services provided by more than service provider.

Intelligent services help reduce emissions

Closely connected with the quality of life are also climate issues in the transport sector. The different means to reduce emissions are a topic of every educated discussion on transport around the world.

In addition to halving the CO2 emissions, we also aim at reducing congestion. Important means to achieve this is to increase the use of sustainable services in transport, such as public transport and ride-sharing, and promote walking and cycling.  This, in turn, calls for utilisation of data and planning of the transport infrastructure supporting the climate targets.

The infrastructure must support and encourage the introduction of low-emission transport services.  In practice, this means better rail connections, walking and cycling paths, park-and-ride facilities and transport services that support public transport. In future, the use and development of sustainable transport modes must also be supported by transport automation.

Users’ needs are different and the intelligent transport system of the future cannot be designed with only one model in mind. It is essential that the system will allow the use of many different transport services and modes.

Cooperation across national and sectoral borders

In Copenhagen, I have met decision-makers of other Nordic countries. Finland and the Nordic countries have been active leaders in sustainable transport and servicification. Our similar demographies, value bases and geographical characteristics encourage us to continue our close cooperation in seeking sustainable solutions that improve the quality of life.

Cooperation is also needed between the private and public sectors, in cities, in Finland and in Europe. Linking public transport with various private services will take place through data utilisation and system integration. Both the users and the providers of the services will win as the new transport service packages will bring more customers.

Sometimes the future visions may seem like a utopia that has little to do with reality. It is true that the servicification in the transport sector is just beginning and is in some places still very marginal.

The global transport service markets are expected to reach hundreds of billions of euros already in the coming years. If we want these markets to endorse solutions that improve the quality of our life, we need to take action today.

Anne Berner

Minister of Transport and Communications

Kirjoittanut: Anne Berner