Unified everyday travel service for urban households
There is a lot of talk about Mobility as a Service and Combined Mobility. Still mostly talks and powerpoint presentation. But seeing is believing and operating and using is understanding.
For half a year 70 paying households in Gothenburg have been using such a service in reality, subscribing to a fully integrated mobility service called UbiGo. The service combines Public Transport, car-sharing, rental car service, taxi and a bicycle system. All in one app, all on one invoice, with 24/7 support and bonus for sustainable choices. We sometimes call it a charter service for everyday travel (instead of vacation trips) or Spotify for everyday travel.
The business idea is simple: Procuring everyday travel in volume, repackage and deliver it in an simple way, offering an easy everyday life without having to own a car.
The results from the thorough evaluation based on surveys, interviews, travel diaries, focus groups and usage are very positive. In fact, none of the households stopped using the service and a clear majority wants to stay as customers. The first results was presented by Chalmers in August 2014, but the evaluation is actually still going on, at the same time as we are preparing for the relaunching the service in a 2.0 version for households and companies in, probably in Gothenburg and one or two other Nordic cities. For more information and opportunities, please contact us at email@example.com
Real households, real money, real service
UbiGo was developed and tested as part of the two-year project Go:smart, headed by Lindholmen Science Park and involving a dozen partners from the industry, academia and public sector, co-funded by Vinnova. The focus was not on testing the technology, rather the viability of the business model, which also includes arewarding scheme for sustainable choices of transport modes. This can only be done by real households paying real money for real services.
Building on previous experiences, the project defined the concept, signed agreements with suppliers, developed the IT-platform including the app, recruited the households through real marketing, PR and sales-meetings, built up administration and support processes – all in just one year.
Early adopters – all on board until the sweet end
After the initial 6 months of testing, we can conclude that no single household stopped using the UbiGo service, and that most of them wanted to continue to use the service. Note that the test pilots relied on the UbiGo service every day!
Most of the users seem to be what is referred to as early adopters, i.e. people who are curious, want to be first with something they think might become big, but who also have high expectations. 20 households agreed to hand-over their private cars for half a year (they got a compensation for the fixed cost of ownership). Other households did not own a car at all, but saw advantages of getting a full and integrated service. Few households were already members of car or bike sharing schemes.
The main reason for joining was curiosity, with convenience, economy and environment falling a bit behind. Most important is Simplicity – that the service is easy to use, that the cars are in the proximity, that one can check account balance, modify bookings etc; and Security – that personal information and accounting should be secure. They expect the service to make it easier to pay, keep track of expenditures etc, and to increase the number of available mode alternatives.
Results from the thorough evaluation based on surveys, interviews, travel diaries, focus groups and usage are very positive. In fact, none of the households stopped using the service and a clear majority wants to stay as customers. Main reason for taking part has shifted from curiosity to convenience, which is exactly what hoped for. Also economy grew in importance.
Half of the users changed their modes of travel, four out of ten have changed the way they plan their trips and one out of four have changed their “travel-chains”. They say that it has become easier to pay for the travel, they have better control of expenditures, they have gotten access to more modes of travel. A majority were satisfied or very satisfied, a majority were also saying that they have benefited from UbiGo. On the down side was the html5 implementation of the app and Facebook/Gmail based log-in.
More published papers here
Using service instead of owning a car
The service offers easy, flexible, reliable, priceworthy everyday travel, without having to own a car (or a 2nd car). UbiGo positions itself against car ownership, not against car use per se. We know that if we can offer such a reliable and easy-to-use service that households feel confident enough to let go of their own car, they will drive much less.
We also know that owning a car will cost more and involve more hassle than benefits in most urban areas. UbiGo is thus more about helping households than competing against cars. Opposite to many mobility management initiatives UbiGo acknowledge the de facto benefits related to car usage. Thereby UbiGo avoids the trap of being stuck into a customer segmentation that misses households who are used to and feel dependent on access to car. UbiGo still reach public objectives and get the desired effects without trying to convince the target group to change behavior. UbiGo delivers thanks to making a better offer.
Taking a customer perspective is important when designing the service, if not, it will not win against car ownership. And if it is not built on commercial grounds, there will not be a sustainable service. Sustainablility for UbiGo is to provide benefits in terms of economy, environment and social perspectives. Customer satisfaction and profitability is therefore crucial. It is our belief that its possible to run a sustainable business based on procuring, repackage, and deliver everyday travel. And it is our belief that the success lies in how it is done.
A unique project and test
The development and test of the UBiGo services differentiates from other projects in this area by building on a viable business model that is tested by real customers, paying real money for real services. A business model is something that one has to have in order to offer a sustainable service. The business idea is not to integrate information systems, offering seamless information to support comodal trips, it’s not even about integrating payment systems in order to to offer tickets in the phone, it is about procuring everyday travel in volume, repackage and delver in an easy, flexible way.
It is not about the seamless trip, it is about the seamless traveler. It is not about from point A to B, it is from morning to evening, from monday to sunday and from January to Decemberand about meeting all mobility needs of a household or organisation.
The implementation of UbiGo will also promote the creation of a eco system for mobility, with technical business and policy standards that will help cities, people and businesses all over the world.
More to come
The business model that was tested on households, also includes the B2B-market, where business can be either employers (business trips), events, shops and restaurants. For internationalisation, a franchising concept will be deployed, in which local partners in large cities will run the service based on the knowledge, brand and platform developed in Gothenburg.
In May 2015, UbiGo received the OECD International Transport Forum’s award for Promising Innovation.
In a project funded by Vinnova, UbiGo has teamed up with Ericsson and Swedish ICT Viktoria Institue to grasp the whole Eco system that also will result in an international IT-platform for mobility operators such as UbiGo based on Ericsson’s technology. During 2016 the regional Public transport operator will initiate an Innovation-procurement with the aim of making a concession procurement that can serve as a model for the inclusion of Public transport in other Cities.
How it works: Like a mobile phone subscription
The UbiGo households subscribe to their prepaid monthly need of public transport (as days to use in one or more zones) and car (as hours that can be translated on to days or longer). These digital punch cards are stored in the cloud and are accessible to all members of the households through the UbiGo-app. If the cards run empty, extra days or hours will be registered and billed afterwards, as will taxi-trips, waivers etc. Un-used days or hours will be saved for later use.
There is an 24/7 manned support service, and if there is a long delay in the public transport, UbiGo-customers will get a taxi without any paperwork afterwards. For every kilo CO2 saved (compared to if the trip would have been made by private car), users get bonus points that can be used to buy services or products from UbiGo partner organisations (bike service, home delivery, health clubs, concerts etc).
A first paper based on the evaluation that is still going on at Chalmers was presented at the ITS World Congress in Detroit in september 2014. Read it here.
More published papers here
See the 2 minute film about the service, used for recruitment.
See a customer testimonial
The goal of the project Go:smart:
To develop and test an innovative service the makes it easier and rewarding to use sustainable modes of transport in urban areas.
Households in urban areas choose access to mobility over car ownership as customers to a reliable, flexible, rewarding and global service.
The Go:smart partners
Go:smart is headed by Lindholmen Science Park and the other partners are AB Volvo, Commute Greener, Chalmers Technical University, City of Gothenburg, Västra Götaland Region, Västtrafik (regional PT-company), Swedish ICT Viktoria Institute, Tyréns, Swedish Transport Authority, Arby Kommunikation, Mistra Urban Future, Move About and PayEx.
More than a handful research papers have been published and also presented at e.g. ITSWS, TRB. They are found here
UbiGo refers to ubiquitous (everywhere present) or the latin word Ubi for “where to” and Go for just go.
For more information and opportunities: info@UbiGo.me