‘Fair and Square’ Keeps Travelers Committed

The Mobility Orientation Law (MOL) provides for incentives for travelers, yet they are insufficient for a Mobility Organization Authority (MOA) to properly implement its mobility policy.

Financial incentives are a powerful tool to steer citizens towards sustainable mobility. 

The MOL provides for the implementation of the Sustainable Mobility Package, a yearly allowance of up to €500 that a company or an employing State can pay its employees for adopting a sustainable means of transport for comuters. The allowance promotes active and shared mobility such as personal bicycles, carpooling as a passenger or driver, … at the employers’ and users’ choice. However, this system does not provide the MOAs with an incentive tool to direct spending on one means of transport over another, in line with the mobility policies they wish to implement.

The mobility account is the MOA’s means of influencing behavior in favor of sustainable mobility.

By providing each user in their jurisdiction with an individual mobility account, the MOAs have the opportunity to promote a solution for implementing the Mobility Package.

This account would be based on the following 5 principles:

  1. Each user has an individual mobility account recognized by the mobility service providers within the MOA’s jurisdiction.
  2. The individual account is a key to accessing mobility services via the user’s ID.
  3. The individual account is a way to pay for using the service.
  4. The user’s employer may credit the account with an amount in accordance with the Sustainable Mobility Package.
  5. The MOA can credit an account with an amount dedicated to financing travel using a specific mode of transportation (e.g., a bike) or even a specific destination (e.g., a bike to visit a given tourist site).

Principles 1 and 2 are the basis for the account’s acceptability by travelers and its ease of use.

Principles 3, 4 and 5 determine the effectiveness of the account as an incentive tool in the MOA’s local policy. 

The individual mobility account would provide users with flexibility of use, and the MOA with a means of influencing users’ travel and mode choices in a precise way.

Blockchain and smart contract technologies are in a position to deliver the expected benefits of the mobility account.

A number of technologies such as data streaming and blockchain can be used to implement the mobility account. As part of Sopra Steria’s DigiLabs innovation labs, we have carried out a proof of concept (POC) of the mobility account with blockchain and smart contract technology.

Blockchains and smart contracts that were used in our POC have the following capabilities:

  • Blockchains offer the ability to record secure and binding transactions to enable debits and credits to the mobility account: loading the account with the Sustainable Mobility Package, purchasing mobility trips or equipment (bike, etc.).
  • Smart contracts offer the ability to apply conditional rules to each transaction in order to implement the MOA’s targeted subsidies: e.g., subsidies favouring cycling rather than carpooling for downtown trips.

In our illustration, the MOA has set down a rule (smart contract) as follows: 100 points credited after 10 bike rides. The rule applies regardless of the bicycle provider(s) chosen by the user.

Travelers look for the best route and the best means of transportation for their trip.The search ranks trips based on several criteria including mobility point price, bonuses, and mobility account credit.

Travelers select and pay for their trip with their preferred transportation provider.Their account is debited for the corresponding number of loyalty points: this transaction is recorded in the blockchain.

After 10 bike rides, the traveler’s account is automatically credited with a bonus of 100 points: the smart contract established by the MOA for bike rides is automatically triggered after 10 trips and the account is credited accordingly.

Our prototype demonstrated the feasibility of the processing required to implement the mobility account:

  • Registration of a mobility account, purchase of rides using mobility points, and conditional reward
  • Creation of incentive campaigns: promotion of cycling, promotion during off-peak hours, etc.
  • Using transactional data on an individual (passenger dashboard) or anonymous (statistics on the mobility zone) basis

Mobility accounts can help MOAs boost innovation.

The mobility account is the key building block to creating an innovation platform and developing new mobility services. The account’s capabilities (unique customer identifier, payment, blockchain transaction security) will benefit each new service while the account’s promotion and incentive capabilities (smart contract) will help MOAs roll out the service.

The mobility account can be used in several contexts for the benefit of passengers, the MOA and the regional or metropolitan mobility ecosystem: employers, mobility operators, MAAS platforms.

Here are a few examples.

Case no. 1: The MOA wants to reward drivers who leave their cars outside city limits and use public transport.

Drivers park their vehicle in a parking lot at the edge of town. They pay for parking using their mobility account.The transaction is recorded in the blockchain.

Drivers, now pedestrians, use their mobility account to purchase transit tickets.Their account is debited and the transaction is recorded in the blockchain.

When tickets are purchased, the smart contract (business rule) defined by the MOA is activated, detects the payment of a parking spot a few minutes earlier, and automatically adds 100 points to the mobility account.

Case no. 2: Faced with a sharp increase in pollution, the MOA encourages passengers to use clean mobility, bikes and electric vehicles.

City officials alert the MOA to the sudden increase in pollution, compounded by very rainy weather.

The MOA programs a smart contract rule with immediate effect on all accounts to promote bike and electric vehicle trips.The MOA and city staff inform citizens of this policy, which is effective immediately.

All travelers who use their mobility account that day for a bike ride or electric car rental are not charged by the MOA.

Case no. 3: City council wishes to encourage residents to use public transport and reimburses the transport pass.

As a partner of the MOA in the deployment of the mobility account, the city defines a rule (smart contract) on the blockchain to reimburse public transport subscriptions with the MOA.

The rule defined by the city council concerns each subscription linked to a mobility account and leads to free subscription.

The traceability of transactions on the blockchain makes it possible to establish in real time the amount of subsidy that the city council must provide to the MOA for subsidized subscriptions.

The MOA must create an ecosystem to promote the mobility account and innovate in terms of mobility services.

The key success factor for the adoption of the individual mobility account lies in the collaborative deployment of mobility. In an increasingly complex ecosystem, given the appearance of new providers and platforms, an MOA will succeed in getting the individual mobility account adopted by positioning itself as a facilitator for mobility stakeholders: employers, transporters, platform operators, start-ups, etc.  This is the condition for the creation of a collective system ready to pool resources (mobility account, usage statistics, traffic data, innovative solutions, etc.) to meet local mobility challenges. The success of the collaborative public-private governance deployed by the Métropole de Toulouse as part of the COMUTE project can be a source of inspiration for MOAs in their approach.

Short biography of the authors

Rémi Weiller, of Sopra Steria Next, has over 20 years of experience in business transformation and new technologies. He works in the telecom, energy and transport sectors. He recently contributed to the successful redesign of the SNCF’s passenger information system.

Arnauld Marrou, of Sopra Steria Next, has 9 years of experience in transport and mobility in the public sector (Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity, Cour des Comptes) and the private sector (start-ups, consulting). He works on economic models, passenger information issues and intelligent mobility.

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