Out-Law News 1 min. read

UK MaaS code can be enabler of sustainable transport

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A new code published by the UK government can help businesses develop innovative new transport solutions that support decarbonisation, and which comply with evolving regulation, an expert has said.

Ben Gardner of Pinsent Masons, who specialises in mobility services and autonomous vehicles regulation, was commenting after the government published a new mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) code of practice, following an earlier consultation exercise.

MaaS is a catch-all term used to describe a range of different and emerging business models built around the concept of enabling consumers to plan, book and pay for trips across different modes of transport provided by different transport operators through one digital platform.

The new code addresses a range of issues that businesses developing MaaS solutions will have to grapple with, including accessibility, sustainability, use of data, multimodal ticketing, consumer protection and competition law issues.

Gardner said: “MaaS was not in the minds of legislators at the time the UK’s current road traffic and transportation laws were introduced. The deployment of MaaS could be impacted by unforeseen legal obstacles, gaps and grey areas as a result. The code is therefore a welcome set of guidelines that will help to address some of these issues – providing a bit more clarity of service providers and users.”

“Notably, the code of practice is not legally binding – but in the absence of formally enacted legislation, which would take significant time to develop and introduce, the code of practice does provide some indication as to what a future legal framework might look like. Introducing this now will help businesses to develop solutions that are more likely to be ‘legal by design’ when new legislation is introduced, and it will give services users an idea of what a ‘good’ service provision looks like. The code of practice could therefore be a key enabler to accelerating the roll out of MaaS in the UK which could help unlock economic benefits as well as more accessible and sustainable forms of transport,” he said.

The Department for Transport said developing the code was necessary to help businesses overcome the technical, commercial and regulatory challenges they face when designing a MaaS solution. It said regulating at this time would risk stifling innovation.

Among the recommendations contained in the new code, transport operators are encouraged to share a range of data for use by others under the Open Government Licence. This includes data to assist journey planning, such as regarding route, distance and time; ticket price information; timetables; location data to help users track their journey; data on how busy services are; and carbon emissions to promote sustainable journeys.

In turn, MaaS providers are encouraged to share data with transport providers – such as anonymised passenger travel data – to support transport operators’ planning and operations.

The code provides a signpost to guidance prepared by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office to help businesses ensure their data sharing complies with data protection law.

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