Andy Taylor: MaaS messenger
Andy Taylor has been involved in the transport industry since the late 1990s, first in the air, and of late on the ground. On the connected ground. In addition to his main role – more on that below – he is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Maas Alliance.
Where are you working now, and what do you do?
I’m currently working at Cubic Transportation Systems, as the Director of Strategy. My role there involves continuing the discussion on Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and informing stakeholders on the benefits and pitfalls around its implementation.
How do I do this? By travelling around cities and regions hosting MaaS workshops where I engage with city managers, transport managers, and public transit managers, as I said earlier to discuss pros and cons, and to identify options for the growth of MaaS.
How did you gravitate to studying/working in the mobility field?
Growing up my family never really had access to a car so we relied on public transport, cycling, or walking everywhere. So I’ve always had an affinity and like of these modes, and I knew what it was like to have to rely on them for all my mobility options.
After studying and working in the air traffic control domain it became apparent to me that a lot of the issues that cities and public transport face today can be solved by looking to the skies to the solutions that have been implemented there to improve operations. The ability to manage multiple stakeholders’ data, to have common operating pictures, to plan multi-modal connectivity, and to optimise arrival and departure flows has merit in the optimisation and management of ground transportation.
Could you tell us more about your studies, and previous roles?
At Bristol University I studied Aerospace Engineering as I really wanted to be involved with aeroplanes, then after that I went on to be an Air Traffic Controller at EUROCONTROL, managing the airspace over Northern Europe.
After that I went into the Research and Development field for air traffic control, working for QinetiQ in the UK. Around the turn of the millennium I was asked to move to the USA to help grow the QinetiQ Air Traffic Control business in that region.
Around 2012 I was asked to move to a niche training and simulation company called Intific to develop their entire transportation portfolio. This company was acquired by Cubic and then I was moved into the Cubic Transportation Systems side of the business where I worked in the Strategy team to help develop MaaS.
Planes, trains, automobiles … having worked in aviation, was it much of a gear change moving from the air to the ground?
Moving from the air to the ground environment was a lot easier than I expected. There is amazing overlap between airborne and ground-based stakeholders, with the great exception that if traffic gets busy or there’s an operational issue you can stop a train or bus while the issues are resolved. Airplanes don’t take well to stopping in mid-air!
I was also interested to see the same issues facing the air community: scheduling, timetabling, congestion, demand management, data sharing, safety and security, multi-modal planning, electronic ticketing, the list goes on.
Having dealt with a lot of the same consumer and stakeholder issues in the air has really given me some additional insights into how we can solve the same types of problem on the ground.
Hypothetical time. You have an unlimited budget. What is the one fix or project that you would like to take on?
Creation of a global clearing house for mobility providers and end users such that anyone can provide and promote a service in a region, and any user can use the facility to determine all travel options available to them and then select, book and pay via the clearing house.
This facility has grown up over years in the airline industry for the sale of tickets, and it has shown that air travel can become seamless with airlines working together to deliver seamless journeys. This type of functionality at a regional level would allow the easy identification and booking of journeys.
And part two, this time with a limited budget. What would you do in order to make an appreciable impact on a transport issue?
I’d promote best practice in engaging the private sector in the augmentation and support of public sector transport solutions. Too often we have seen cities being swamped in ride-share services or bike/scooter share littering our streets. I’d like to build a best-practice guidelines for cities and public transport agencies so that they know what they are getting into, what they are signing up to and how to control the private companies for the benefit of the city as a whole.
Have you seen a city, or cities, where the implementation of share bikes and scooters has been done well?
This is a difficult question as how do you define ‘done well’? There are plenty of examples where it’s gone very poorly – San Francisco, Sydney, San Diego to name a few, but they’ve been proactive in rectifying the issues.
Same with ride share services that have swamped cities and increased traffic that has negatively impacted public transport reliability and schedule services. I think that there’s no great examples of best practice, but there’s plenty of examples of lessons to be learned from poor execution.
If I had to single one city out for kudos I would focus on London. Its bike share program has been well managed and implemented and has led to a resurgence in bike operations that has now led to cycle pathways linking all corners of the city.
What work, or project, are you most proud of to date?
The promotion of MaaS has been my key focus for the last 3 years. Having seen the enthusiasm for MaaS grow and being called upon to give numerous presentations to many people, I feel that MaaS as a concept is now considered an almost-here reality.
And on the topic, I was chuffed to be awarded the title of MaaS Ambassador for 2018 by the MaaS Alliance.
Other that what you’re doing now, and what you’ve done previously, in transport is there something new, perhaps even a new field/challenge for you entirely, that what you would like to take on?
Great question. I’m now focused on the data that exists within travel. There are numerous technologies and numerous solutions and services available today that make up all of our transport offerings globally. New technologies such as account-based solutions and connected and autonomous vehicles are showing the new direction in which mobility will move.
But at the core it is the data that these solutions provide or generate, and how that data is used for the benefit of the traveller that is key. I’d like to help breakdown some of the myths around data, start discussing what the true value of data is, and look at issues around data ownership and sharing that could accelerate the mobility revolution.
In the next 3 to 5 years, what in transport/smart city/etc technology are you most excited about? And why?
Well, I did just mention data, and I really do think it’s of prime importance. The future cannot be fully envisioned unless we unlock the power of the data for travellers. This discussion will be an awkward discussion for some as they will realise their perceived value of the data they own could be worthless in the greater scheme, but at the same time we will truly embolden the end user to provide their data to improve their services in a safe and secure manner.
The next 3 to 5 years will be fraught with discussion and debate over data, but I’m sure that all stakeholders will see the benefits and unlock the power to deliver better services and solutions.