Greg Lindsay's Blog

February 09, 2019  |  permalink

Mobility as a Service: One Ring To Rule Them All


(I’m the opening keynote speaker at the Trapeze Group’s 2019 ThinkTransit conference in April. Ahead of that, they asked me to record a quick Webcast covering some of the themes of my talk — which is still several months away, so who know how much will change by then! Click here to watch the Webcast, or read Trapeze’s write-up of my talk below. I hope to see you there in Tampa on April 15 — on my birthday, no less!)

I once took an English class for the sole reason that it included the study of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I hadn’t read the books at that point, so I really didn’t know what I was in for. As it turned out, our class embarked on a poetic and exciting journey. At the heart of the stories was a ring.

One Ring to rule them all,

One Ring to find them,

One Ring to bring them all

And in the darkness bind them

A self-professed “Tolkien nerd,” [Editor’s note: I’m not really a Tolkien nerd.] Greg Lindsay, Futurist and Urbanist, joined us for a webinar on January 25th for a sneak peek into his ThinkTransit 2019 keynote address, where he’ll discuss how the idea of one ring or one body can be applied to the state of the passenger journey today. The ring model could offer the industry a guide as to how to solve what we’re seeing with multiple competing services (traditional transit, scooters, bikes and ride shares) with little or no integration. As Greg put it in the webinar, “What role can we take in advancing our standards to ensure that at the very least we have open standards to perhaps demand interoperability between shared services?”

Although it seems imperative that there be some overarching coordination of shared mobility, Greg went on to say that, “if the one ring model does not prove true, how can we advance this notion of open standards, how can we promote interoperability so we can get public transit front and center and really have it become the backbone of the larger shared services?”

Do you think J.R.R. Tolkien had any idea of the impact he would have more than 60 years after writing his original masterpiece? Or that we would be taking his idea and applying it to a discussion about public transit? Probably not. Regardless, he imparted some valuable notions that we can build on today.

I hope Greg will have more Tolkien-isms to share at ThinkTransit. Regardless, I’m looking forward to an open and engaging forum to really think deeply about how our industry will successfully approach the unprecedented new challenge of shared mobility.

If you haven’t visited the ThinkTransit website yet, Greg will be kicking off the 2019 ThinkTransit Conference with a discussion on mobility. Here’s a sneak peek on his topic:

Mobility-as-a-Service: Open standards or walled gardens? MaaS is seen as a potential antidote to private mobility operators controlling the customer relationship, data, and booking mechanism. But that was before TNCs pivoted into full-stack mobility offerings with bicycles, scooters, and transit integration (such as Uber’s deal with Masabi). Can cities, DOTs, and transit agencies embrace-and-demand open standards before it’s too late?

Micromobility: Friend-or-foe to transit? Scooter madness aside, early surveys suggest that rather than diverting passengers from driving private automobiles, scooters are capturing riders who might have otherwise walked or taken public transit. While this might be a positive from an active mobility standpoint, it still poses a threat to transit — especially when the data collected from these services is being funneled to companies competing with transit, such as TNCs. How do we ensure micromobility is complementary to transit, rather than a competitor?

Intrigued? Want to hear more? Watch the webinar here and don’t forget to sign up for ThinkTransit by the early bird deadline on February 20th! I know I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

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