Trafi Talks with Daniel Reck

Daniel Reck is a researcher at ETH Zurich. His work aims to advance our understanding of emerging transport modes (shared e-scooters and e-bikes, carsharing and ridehailing) and their integration with public transport (Mobility-as-a-Service, mobility hubs) to inform policymaking that creates more efficient, sustainable and equitable cities.

As part of our Trafi Talks series, we sat down with Daniel to talk about three topics he’s explored at length throughout his career (and taken from the publication he co-authored, MaaS Bundle Design):

  • MaaS bundle design
  • Behavioral change and MaaS adoption
  • Sustainable mobility 

Let’s jump right into it!

What are the key components of a successful mobility bundle design?

D: That depends on how you define success. Success could mean a behavioral shift towards more sustainable transport modes, but it could also mean commercial success. Identifying what success means in your organization and then following a goal-oriented bundle design process is probably the most crucial part of mobility bundle design. In my experience, a very simple truth holds for mobility bundle design: input is strongly related to output. For example, if you include lots of free e-scooter minutes in our bundle, you will incentivize lots of e-scooter usage. In turn, if you include subsidized public transport season tickets in your bundle, you will incentivize public transport use. Simplicity is also key to attracting and retaining customers.

A very simple truth holds for mobility bundle design: input is strongly related to output.

In our recent paper on MaaS bundle design, we synthesize 10 design dimensions for mobility bundles to assist researchers and practitioners in designing future trials and products. These design dimensions include, for example, which transport modes to include, which metrics to employ to measure consumption and budgets, the type and granularity of discounts, and further details such as subscription cycle lengths and roll-over options. We describe each design dimension in detail with practical examples from the case studies we have worked on, and further review the scope and gaps in the academic literature on the topic.

Another key influencer for successful MaaS adoption is very human: willingness to pay. How can we encourage users to do just that?

D: This is simple: if MaaS provides added value to users, willingness to pay will follow. How can MaaS provide added value? First, simplify their lives: one app for intermodal trip planning, booking and payment, instead of many. The Trafi-powered implementations in Switzerland (Yumuv) and Berlin (Jelbi) are great examples here: users can plan, book and pay for a trip with several different modes all in one app.

Second, financial incentives: MaaS bundles can offer discounts. One example are the Yumuv bundles in Switzerland. There, bundle users pay no unlocking fee for shared mobility services. This is valuable and users are likely to be willing to pay for it. Maximizing willingness to pay is complex, though, as demand for mobility is highly individual. Our studies in Switzerland have shown that including additional services can sometimes even decrease willingness to pay if users see no added value but have the feeling that they pay for it.

In general, who should be encouraging a mental and behavioral shift towards shared mobility, and how should they be doing it?

D: First, let’s clarify that shared mobility is not always good, and shouldn’t be a goal in itself. Research has shown that life-cycle CO2 emissions of shared micromobility services, for example, are worse than those of personal e-scooters and e-bikes due to lower lifetime expectancies and operational services (rebalancing, recharging).

“Efficient public transport systems will always be the backbone of sustainable urban transport.

I think a lot of people want to travel more sustainably, they just need the right tools to do so. Intermodal MaaS apps can be of great use here. Reliable, efficient public transport systems will always be the backbone of sustainable urban transport. However, we also need more awareness of the true costs of private car rides. In Switzerland, for example, TCS (Touring Club Suisse) calculated that fuel costs only make up 15% of the total costs per kilometer of private car rides. When comparing the car with other transport modes, many just consider fuel costs. This is obviously a skewed comparison that calls for correction.

Finally, employers have an important role to play. In Germany, for example, many employers provide their employees with company cars. What if, for example, they would provide their employees with MaaS bundles that include public transport season tickets instead?

Imagine a city with a perfectly functional mobility ecosystem. Walk us through this vision of perfection. 

D: In my view, five defining characteristics of functional mobility ecosystems are accessibility, efficiency, equity, sustainability and safety.

First, transport is about providing accessibility. In a perfectly functional mobility ecosystem, accessibility should be high, and it should be high not only for some, but for all.

Second, efficiency relates to how much space an average person needs to move from A to B, and how much transport is required overall. In this aspect, many cities, and cars in cities, are terribly inefficient. Micromobility and public transport are already much better. Increasing efficiency means decreasing the space required for transport. In today’s cities (and much more so in future cities), we are running out of space so we need to increase their efficiency. One way to do so in transport is reducing the number of cars. Did you know that in some cities, 20-30% of the total space is occupied by streets and parking spots?

We need to ensure that those with few alternatives don’t get left behind.

Third, equity in transport relates to situations when certain social groups benefit more from public investments than others. For example, higher income groups travel more regularly in airplanes and long-distance trains and thus over-proportionately benefit from investments in airports and long-distance train networks. With so many new mobility services entering our cities these days (e.g., shared e-scooters and bikes, carsharing and ridesourcing), we need to ensure that those with few alternatives also benefit from increasing accessibility and don’t get left behind.

Fourth, sustainability relates to total life-cycle emissions of the mobility ecosystem, which we should naturally aim to reduce. This includes CO2 emissions but also other emissions such as noise. And last but not least, safety is another very important characteristic of functional mobility ecosystems.

For further reading, you can find Daniel Reck’s papers on Mobility-as-a-Service and shared mobility on his personal website:

To find out more about how Trafi’s services are encouraging the shift to MaaS, check out our website or get in touch.

3 Things Cities Need to Know Before Launching a MaaS Solution

Accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, shifting global attitudes, and government-backed incentives, city MaaS solutions are on the rise. In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo ran (and won) her reelection campaign on the premise of transforming her city into a sustainable mobility paradise, one in which pedestrians and cyclists are afforded the same opportunities for quick, efficient movement around the city as their private-car-driving, CO2-emitting counterparts. 

If you’re a city official or transport planner yourself, there’s a good chance you’re still unconvinced of the benefits a MaaS solution would bring to your own city, particularly in relation to how much effort needs to go into building it. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.

For many cities, the idea of launching a MaaS concept can feel like a daunting, complicated task. Officials frequently tell us that a lack of understanding is the biggest hurdle keeping them from launching MaaS systems. This stems from the fact that there are no common practices for building MaaS solutions yet. New networks can’t be constructed using a one-size-fits-all approach; they have to be tailored to unique local needs. 

At Trafi, we’re working hard to establish new practices and bridge the MaaS knowledge gap so that cities can unlock their full potential. That’s why we tapped into our network of city authorities, private mobility operators and thought leaders from across MaaS to compile what we think are three things every city should know before embarking on a multimodal mobility journey of their own. 

1. Know your MaaS market 

Public transportation is the backbone of any successful MaaS system. As such, having a solid understanding of what challenges your own PT networks are facing is an important starting point when tackling the question of how to integrate them into a multimodal MaaS concept. Assessing the situation from the angle of what’s working and what isn’t is key: when are your highest ridership levels during the day, week or month? Most cities are expanding – how should your PT network grow with your city’s population, or even more importantly, is your PT network even in a position to start scaling in the near future? 

Once you’ve gained a solid overview on the current status of the supply-to-demand ratio of your existing PT network, you can far more easily assess which additional options would be most likely to be used by commuters and travelers. Because that’s the point, after all: the MaaS networks we build at Trafi are no longer the theoretical nice-to-haves from days of yore, but rather practical systems to be quickly and efficiently implemented – and satisfy a growing desire for flexible, on-demand, low-cost alternatives to private cars. 

2. Know your partners

MaaS should be a team effort with cities at the helm. Government authorities know what’s best for urbanites living within city bounds. Nonetheless, by its very definition, a multimodal MaaS network gets its strength from the diversity of players it’s made up of. That’s why at Trafi, we often try to drive the point home (pun intended) that collaboration between all players across the mobility spectrum is key. 

Of course, orchestrating a successfully collaborative system really boils down to selecting the right partners for your city’s needs as well. While deploying thousands of vehicles from one of the biggest names in car sharing might seem like an exciting initiative to you, it might not be what your citizens who are keen on expanding local bike rental options want or need. 

To determine which partners serve the needs of your people best, you’ll be better off asking for help from someone who understands MaaS networks on both sides of the public-private equation. Another key factor to consider is who to work with when it comes time to beef up your digital infrastructure: unless your city has a solid network of in-house technologists ready to digitally map your city and discuss the finer points of mobility data sharing with micromobility providers, we’d highly recommend working with a third-party software provider who puts your needs first and can “speak tech” with mobility companies.

3. Know your users’ preferences

The beauty of cities lies in the complexity and diversity of the people living in them. As such, your MaaS network should reflect the unique composition of the multifaceted ecosystem it serves. To encourage the use of MaaS solutions, we have to provide options that people actually want to use. Whether it’s flexibility, on-demand convenience, or low-cost alternatives that really get people excited about MaaS, your network should offer users just what they’re looking for.  

We have a pro-people ethos at Trafi. Each component of our MaaS Suite is designed with our partners’ end users in mind. To truly reduce reliance on privately owned cars, the alternative has to do more than just sound good on paper or resonate with urban planners. MaaS networks have to be appealing. In other words, users, not companies or cities, are setting the tone for the MaaS industry; that’s why our user-first approach is based on the simple notion of giving people exactly what they want. 

Launching a MaaS network is a multistep process, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. If you’re equipped with the right knowledge and have the support of the right partners, any city can create an effective MaaS system that works for them and reap its long-term benefits.

If you’d like to know more about exactly what those benefits would mean for your city, or you’d just like some help finding the ideal partners and resources for your city’s specific needs, Trafi is here to help. Get in touch with us at any time – we’d be happy to walk you through the process. 

For more information about the Trafi MaaS Suite, check out our website.

Questions? Drop us a line.  

Man walking a bike across a crosswalk
Man walking a bike across a crosswalk

The Rise of the Bike: How Bicycles are Winning Relevance in Mobility Systems

Arguably the most sustainable transport option available today – and not just because of the obvious fact that they don’t emit harmful pollutants – bicycles are relatively cheap to produce, take up minimal space in overcrowded cities, and even help their riders maintain an active lifestyle.

Bicycles, the underdogs of mobility, were sustainable before it was cool to be sustainable, and now that the world has begun to shift away from personal car usage and towards a multimodal, shared future, bikes are poised to become an integral component of any comprehensive MaaS system.

Why are bicycles here to stay?

  • Cities are incentivizing bike riding
  • Innovative business models are reinventing cycling
  • Bicycles complement a larger MaaS system

Cities and governments are encouraging bike riding

Since the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, bicycle usage has jumped significantly across Europe. In Germany, bicycle stores sold three times as many bikes in March and April compared to 2019, causing shortages throughout the country. (1) Authorities in Berlin responded quickly to this spike in consumer demand by building 27 kilometers of pop-up bike lanes, made possible by reduced automobile traffic. (2) In London, a city infamous for both its congestion issues and its willingness to tackle those problems, officials went even further by building 30 kilometers of permanent bike lanes and blocking some streets off to automobile traffic entirely. (3) While the changes implemented in Berlin and numerous other cities have been met with backlash, they were applauded by cyclists and experts who welcomed their swiftness and saw them as a win for sustainable mobility development (4).

The encouragement of bike riding isn’t just limited to infrastructure investments: back in April, the French government offered a bike repair subsidy to every citizen as a way of providing a socially distant alternative to subways and buses deemed unsafe. Considering 60% of journeys taken in France before the pandemic were less than five kilometers long, bicycles are a particularly well-suited option for French travelers (and are ripe for combining with other mobility types). (5) At the end of 2020, England also proposed an e-bike subsidy scheme for Q1 2021 that is set to reduce the costs of purchasing a new e-bike by up to 30%. (6)

New innovations are inspiring the next generation of cyclists

Even before the spread of the coronavirus, bicycles were beginning to undergo an image makeover. E-bikes – still a novel concept only a few years ago – saw sales skyrocket at the beginning of Europe’s lockdowns. In March, one in four Europeans were either already in possession of an e-bike or were interested in buying one in the coming year. (7) They made good on their promise, too: VanMoof, one of Europe’s trendiest e-bike brands, saw an increase of sales in all of their main markets compared to the same time period in 2019, including Germany (+226%), the UK (+184%), Holland (+140%), the US (+138%), and France (+92%). (8)

Of course, many consumers are understandably wary of spending over 1000€ on their own personal e-bike. But even the 2 out of 5 Europeans who cite the high price of personal e-bikes as a barrier to entry can make use of multiple dockless and free-floating bike sharing schemes that are sprouting up across Europe, Asia and the United States. (9) It’s not just the electrification and shareability of bikes that have made them seem more exciting recently, either: subscription-based bike rentals, in which riders pay a monthly fee in exchange for a personal bicycle and free maintenance, have already proven very successful. In Berlin, e-bike subscription company Dance raised 15€ million after only three months of testing their invite-only pilot project. (10) If the numbers are any indication, bikes are officially growing in popularity.

Bicycles are flexible additions to a comprehensive mobility system

Consumer preferences have changed since bicycles began to be taken seriously as commuting options in the early 1900s. Today, consumers are more likely to combine mobility types than ever before; as with many shared mobility options, bikes aren’t seen as standalone solutions, but as an additional choice consumers now have when planning their travel journey.

That makes the timing of Trafi’s brand-new bike routing technology all the more relevant. Cyclists using the Trafi white label app can benefit from exact arrival times, easily combine their bike trips with public transport options, and even compare a potential bike route with, say, a route taken on a kick-scooter or bus. This allows for an extremely convenient travel experience.

Bicycles, overlooked no more, are on the rise. Increased consumer demand, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and boosted by government investments, is a testament to bicycles’ newfound popularity. By integrating bicycles into holistic, multimodal MaaS networks, cities and companies can do their part in ensuring their longevity. But considering how practical, sustainable and surprisingly innovative bikes are, we’re confident that they’re here to stay awhile.

To read more about Trafi bike routing, read our announcement here or contact us.

Introducing: The Mobility Impact Series

We’re very excited to announce the launch of our Mobility Impact Series! 

The words “sustainability” and “mobility” are often mentioned in the same breath. As an industry, mobility is defined by innovations that claim to be based on the common goal of creating a more sustainable and healthier future for our cities and our planet.

But these “green” future visions often leave watchers of the mobility space scratching their heads: what does the term sustainable mobility really mean, anyway?

At Trafi, we’ve been helping cities build and enhance their mobility systems for over 10 years. We’re often approached about the sustainable impact of shared mobility, which is why we’ve decided to delve deeper into the topic with our new Mobility Impact Series.

In upcoming articles, we’ll be discussing “car-topias”, pedestrian-friendly cities, travel patterns and a variety of other subjects. Stay tuned to our LinkedIn channel and check our blog regularly for updates.

Without further ado, read on to learn more the roots of car-centric societies – and why the mobility landscape today is in need of an update.

We’re suffering from an acute car problem

If anyone still has doubts about cars being a hurdle on the road to sustainable mobility, there are numerous shocking statistics in circulation that could change their mind, as seen below.

There are plenty more:

  • There are already 1.4 billion automobiles on the planet today, and forecasts suggest this number will climb to 2 billion in 2030.
  • Road accidents cause 1.3 million deaths and 50 million serious injuries per year – more than the entire population of Spain.  
  • Road transport accounts for 11.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the emissions caused by airplanes and buildings combined. 
  • The world’s parking lots take up a total space of 161 billion square meters, which is equivalent to the size of Beijing. 

These numbers aren’t new – scientists, activists and some industry players mention them frequently. However, sustainable mobility is rarely considered in its historical context. Seven decades ago, car manufacturers were selling the cutting-edge dream of a convenient, liberating and comfortable life, finally available to the middle classes for the reasonable price of one automobile; today, digital mobility innovators are disrupting old mobility habits with promises of greener, safer, friendlier cities. 

In essence, the core of their sales strategies are very similar: new, exciting mobility solutions have the power to transform our lives for the better. A myriad of solutions on the market today are aimed at improving bits and pieces of the system, but rarely tackle the root of the issue itself. Which of these promises are truly constructive waypoints on the road to liveable cities, and which are just bells and whistles distracting from bigger issues at hand?

Small thinking, big changes

Back when the VW Lemon (recognizable as the VW Beetle today) hit the American market in 1960, the advertising campaign surrounding its launch caused an incredible stir. “Think small”, the campaign’s slogan, was revolutionary, changing advertising forever and helping the tiny and somewhat odd-looking VW Lemon cruise its way into the luxury car market in the US – and permanently changing the way people perceived cars in the process. 

A tiny car that caused a huge change

Up until that point, cars were shiny, large, and loud; the compact, rounder Lemon offered a stark contrast to American muscle cars and appealed to an entirely new segment of car owners. It made simpler cars fashionable, democratizing cars and making them accessible to everyone. 

Of course, advertising agencies aren’t the only ones responsible for societies and cities designed around cars. The entire urban planning system in the US encouraged car ownership and viewed automobiles as a convenient, modern transport solution. In the meantime, however, the American transit system was being rebuilt with the goal of linking suburbs to city centers, rather than linking suburbs with other suburbs or more rural areas.

Add cheap gasoline, large investments in highways and a whole range of car-friendly consumer services like drive-in cinemas and drive-through restaurants to the mix, and you end up with an obvious conclusion: cars were practically destined to become the ultimate symbols of a comfortable, modern, convenience-driven lifestyle. The rest, as they say, was history. 

The American dream on wheels

Next stop: “Carification”

Between the end of WWII and 1955, the number of cars on US roads doubled from 25 million to over 50 million. The trend quickly shifted to Europe, where new industry needs and changing economy led to skyrocketing mass production of individual vehicles. During the decade of 1950 to 1960, European car manufacturers launched some of their now-legendary models – Citroen’s 2CV stayed in production until 1990! – and the streets of the continent were quickly filled with motorized status symbols.

Transport demand is expected to grow all across the world in the coming decades as the global population increases, incomes rise, and more people can afford cars.The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that global transport (measured in passenger kilometers) will double and car ownership rates will increase by 60%.

Even as everyone from impassioned teenagers to conservative politicians are demanding more sustainable solutions, further construction on the “car-topia” we’re living in continues unchecked. Hollow value propositions promote electrification and autonomous technology as the path to a better, sustainable future, without telling consumers and investors what that means in explicit terms. 

Car density per 1000 Europeans over the years

We believe MaaS works – but we can’t change the industry alone 

At Trafi, we believe in cities without privately owned cars. We have a different approach to mobility, and we think that genuinely effective and accessible mobility should be viewed as a service and a system that gets its strength from a diverse group of collaborators, leaders and city planners. The good news is that there are plenty of cities who have also pledged to work towards more cohesive and comprehensive mobility services for their citizens, and many have already implemented groundbreaking strategies – Berlin, Zurich, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Paris come to mind, but the market for Mobility-as-a-Service is growing in Latin America and Asia as well. 

This vitally important shift to sustainable mobility – one based on concrete data rather than shiny new technology – simply can’t be achieved without the help of multiple mobility actors and particularly without the collaboration of the private and public mobility sectors. Governments, corporations, innovators and architects, and to a lesser degree consumers all have an important role to play. If we unite under the banner of protecting our planet, our cities and the people living in them, sustainable travel habits and a new way of thinking about mobility will become the norm.

Learn about how the Trafi MaaS Suite is enabling global sustainable solutions here or contact us for more info.

mib jelbi

Multimodality vs. Covid-19

By BVG Jelbi and mobility institute berlin

At the peak of the coronavirus crisis, the mib published the study Beyond the lockdown. This study analyzed the pandemic’s impact on urban mobility and public transport (PT) in the medium and long terms. 

Since then, Europe has entered into the second predicted phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the calibration phase, a lot has happened. One notable trend has been a relaxation of restrictions established during the crisis phase. However, in many regions, the number of cases is rising rapidly again. As predicted in the previous study, this is accompanied by renewed, stricter containment measures in the affected regions. 

Given the renewed increase in infection numbers and the uncertainty it causes, it is crucial to take a closer look at how the pandemic has impacted mobility over the first few months of the crisis. This paper focuses on multimodal mobility offers and its changes during the early months of the pandemic. 

Expansion of multimodal offers is an important component of PT strategy during the pandemic 

Multimodal offers can help keep customers connected to the network of PT operators. This is particularly important during the pandemic, as risk perceptions can sometimes change quickly, leading to general volatility in transportation choices. 

Mib, together with Jelbi, dove into the data to explore this hypothesis. To do so, booking behavior was analyzed in the multimodal app Jelbi and compared to booking behavior in the purely PT apps of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) (FahrInfo and Ticket app). 

Our key findings are: 

▪ During the lockdown, booking patterns of PT and shared mobility offers on Jelbi reversed. In pre-pandemic times, around 80% of bookings were for PT services, and during the peak of the crisis, it dropped to 20%. Meanwhile, four out of five bookings were for shared mobility services. 

Customers switched to short-term PT tickets. After the lockdown, the purchase of short-term tickets recovered much faster than longer-term tickets. 

Customers returned faster to short-term PT products using multimodal platforms. Compared to other BVG apps (FahrInfo and Ticket app), bookings for short- and medium-term tickets in Jelbi recovered significantly quicker. 

Shared mobility services are more attractive than PT during crisis phase – effect persists 

Jelbi, the BVG MaaS project, integrates Public Transport (PT) and shared mobility options, including the BVG ridesharing service BerlKönig into a single solution for Berliners to find, plan, book, and pay for all their trips with one account. 

In April, the purchase of PT tickets in the Jelbi app fell by 88% compared to January. At the same time, bookings of shared mobility services increased by 6%.* The latter have increased significantly compared to PT bookings during the crisis period (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1: Proportion of bookings of shared mobility and public transport services via Jelbi (from 30.12.2019 -05.07.2020)

In the pre-pandemic period, PT tickets accounted for about 80% of all bookings within the Jelbi app. During the peak of the crisis, this figure dropped to 20%. At that time, four out of five bookings were for shared mobility (calendar week 16 from April 13th to 19th). 

By the beginning of July, as the effects of the pandemic had eased up, the share of PT bookings recovered However, shared mobility services remained at 40% of all bookings. 

Customers are switching to shorter-term PT tickets – flexibility remains important 

After the peak of the crisis passed, PT ticket sales recovered. However, an evident change in the type of tickets sold was observed. The sale of single and 4-trip tickets recovered significantly faster than medium- and long-term products such as daily, weekly, and monthly tickets (see Figures 2, 3 and 4).** 

Looking across the different BVG apps – FahrInfo, the BVG Ticket app and Jelbi – sales of short-term tickets recovered by 62% by calendar week 26. Medium- and long-term ticket sales recovered significantly slower during the same period (39% and 37% respectively by calendar week 26***). These findings suggest that customers choose to buy more flexible products as the situation develops. 

The booking of short-term tickets recovers faster in the multimodal app than in purely PT apps 

The comparison between the multimodal Jelbi app and purely PT apps provided by the BVG is striking. In the mib study Beyond the immediate crisis, it was argued that multimodal solutions like Jelbi could strengthen customer loyalty by keeping users in their PT-centric app environment, even through volatile periods. If the number of infections was to increase, users could quickly and easily switch from bus to shared mobility services within one mobility ecosystem. More importantly, when the number of infections drops, users can return to buses and trains just as quickly. 

The comparison of booking figures across the BVG apps supports this hypothesis: After lockdown restrictions were relaxed, booking figures for short-term products through Jelbi recovered faster than through the purely PT apps (especially from week 20-26, see Figure 2). Bookings of day tickets, tourist products, and 7-day tickets also recovered faster on Jelbi from May to June (week 19-23, see Figure 3). Only the bookings of monthly tickets recovered slower in Jelbi than the other apps (see Figure 4). 

Multimodal integration in a PT platform offers significant opportunities 

The numbers show that multimodal solutions like Jelbi provide customers with flexibility in times of crisis and make it easier for them to return to PT. In the long term, the trend toward higher flexibility could become even more critical for any PT company, especially in the next few months, after passengers have gotten used to more flexible modes of transport. 

Therefore, it is crucial that multimodality is consistently considered by authorities and PT companies when planning their mobility services. As the example of Jelbi shows, the model of multimodal integration into one single platform is particularly attractive. Customers are kept in the PT ecosystem and tend to return to their services faster. 

However, a fully integrated multimodal platform solution is not always required. For example, ridesharing providers like BerlKönig**** and MOIA***** offered night-time traffic in German cities during the crisis. In another example, the owners of longer-term PT tickets had the opportunity to use kick-scooters at a discount. Even on this smaller scale, multimodal offers can help ensure mobility in times of increased risk of infection. 

mib |

Dr. Jörn Richert | Head of Consulting & Policy |

Samuel Schrader |  Business Development Manager |

Jelbi | |

© mib and BVG Jelbi, 2020

* mib (2020). Beyond the immediate crisis- The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and public transport strategy. Available at: 

** The zero mark represents the sale at the crisis low point (CW 13, 2020) and 100% the sale at pre-crisis level (CW 8, 2020). The calculation formula for the recovery factor is as follows: (time of consideration – crisis low point) / (pre-crisis level – crisis low point) 

*** The figures represent the average recovery across the three considered BVG apps. 

**** MOViNC (2020). Corona: BerlKönig fährt Gesundheitspersonal – und das kostenlos. Available at: 

***** MOIA (2020). MOIA verstärkt Nachtverkehr im Auftrag der Stadt Hamburg. Available at:  

private bike

Bike routing – first in MaaS solutions

At Trafi we are excited to be the first MaaS provider to introduce personal bike routing, available in all our global rollouts, and as a stand-alone bike routing engine. 

Bicycles have quickly won a more significant role in our daily commute in the past years. Between 30 and 40% kilometers a person rides on a bike are on home-work trips. Cycling brings significant benefits, not only personal ones to the cyclists like moving faster through the city and being healthier because of the active moving, but also environmental ones. According to the EU Cyclist Federation, cycling saves emissions equaling more than 16 million tons of CO2 equivalents per year in the EU. This corresponds to the total yearly CO2 emissions of a whole country like Croatia. 

Moreover, cycling is getting more attention and encouragement from the government; for example, Utrecht in the Netherlands opened the world’s largest underground bicycle parking lot to support commuting by bikes. The COVID-19 pandemic has incentivized many cities worldwide to invest in infrastructure for biking & scooter options to support people’s shifting needs. In 2020 alone, almost 900km of new bicycle lanes have been created across the EU.

Trafi bike routing

  • Know the exact arrival time. Riders can easily find and check routes designed specifically for bike journeys and know the exact arrival time to their destination. 
  • Combine cycling with public transport. Easily map trips to and from a public transit stop. Riders can now time the arrival to a stop with public transport arrival or departure times, so no transport is missed. 
  • Compare with alternatives. Riders can compare their bike route and time to their destination with other forms of transit (ie. public transit, walking, kick-scooters, etc.) so that they can efficiently travel around the city in the manner they prefer. 

How it works

Planning a journey with a bike. In Trafi rollouts bike routing information is found on the “nearby” screen or the “route search” window. When a specific public transit stop is selected, a new icon in the “nearby” screen denotes which PT vehicles allow private bikes. In the route search results window, there is a new section dedicated to bike routing options. An intermodal routing option (a route showcasing the connected bicycle and public transit route) is displayed regularly within search results. 

Bike routing algorithm. To provide the most-up-to-date bike routes and as accurate arrival time to the destination as possible, we use a combination of complex proprietary routing algorithms, real-time traffic information, OpenStreetMap, and NASA elevation data that is updated regularly. To calculate the routes, Trafi’s bike routing algorithm takes a number of criteria into account – available bike lanes, regular roads, side streets, incline, and elevation along the path, to name a few. Soon riders will be able to choose which route they prefer: the shortest (probably a bit steeper), flattest, or bicycle lane exclusive options. Road data changes fast, and we are working hard to provide the newest and most accurate information. 

More and more people opt for biking, which is good news for cities, the environment, and personal riders’ health. We are here to support and incentivize their trips with a best-in-class experience. 

About Trafi

Founded in Vilnius, Lithuania, Trafi has been revolutionizing urban mobility since 2013. Our MaaS platform is designed to run even the most complex transport systems and has been trusted by Berlin (BVG), Brussels (STIB), Portsmouth & Southampton (Solent Transport), Munich (MVG), and Zurich (SBB). 

Trafi’s mission is to empower cities with state-of-the-art MaaS solution that helps to tackle their mobility challenges and to achieve ambitious sustainability objectives. Our white-label product offers all the features and components needed to launch your own-branded MaaS service. With more than 50 existing deep integrations to mobility service providers and payment facilitators, we help to reduce risk, cost, and time-to-launch for new services.

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Jelbi Year One

Celebrating the first year of Jelbi — world’s largest Mobility as a Service

Celebrating the first year of world’s largest Mobility as a Service in Berlin, Jakob Michael Heider, Head of Jelbi, and Sebastian Wolf, Product Owner at BVG, share their insights and recommendations for cities looking to launch an alternative to private cars.

About Trafi

Founded in Vilnius, Lithuania, Trafi has been revolutionizing urban mobility since 2013. Our MaaS platform is designed to run even the most complex transport systems and has been trusted by Berlin (BVG), Brussels (STIB), Portsmouth & Southampton (Solent Transport), Munich (MVG), and Zurich (SBB). 

Trafi’s mission is to empower cities with state-of-the-art MaaS solution that helps to tackle their mobility challenges and to achieve ambitious sustainability objectives. Our white-label product offers all the features and components needed to launch your own-branded MaaS service. With more than 50 existing deep integrations to mobility service providers and payment facilitators, we help to reduce risk, cost, and time-to-launch for new services.

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Universal unlock for micro-mobility in all Trafi rollouts

Introducing: the Universal Micromobility Scanner

Starting today, we’re introducing universal micromobility scanners in all of our global rollouts. The first of its kind, the universal scanner function unlocks every micromobility vehicle connected to the Trafi platform. It’s accessible right from the homescreen and lets users access any vehicle they choose, irrespective of provider. 

Additionally, we’ve launched the two-tap trip experience and improved vehicle discoverability on the map. 

In this day and age, users expect nothing less than perfectly convenient digital experiences, and at Trafi, we pride ourselves on our ability to meet these rapidly evolving demands. The global apps powered by our technology have an average rating of 4.5 stars, similar only to Uber and other leading mobility apps. 

The introduction of the universal scanner is the result of our determination to match the full experience of native micromobility apps and to continue our mission of pushing the mobility-tech envelope.

Universal scanner

Two-tap trip experience

The universal scanner unlocks any integrated vehicle that supports QR codes. 

It works like this: users open their Trafi-powered MaaS app – yumuv or Jelbi, for example – when standing in front of a vehicle they’d like to ride. (It doesn’t matter what sharing company the vehicle belongs to.) The user opens the homescreen of the app and then taps the “scanner” button. The scanner appears on the screen and the user points their smartphone at the QR code located on the top of the vehicle. The QR code is then automatically scanned and unlocked, and the user can hop on the vehicle and get moving.

Two Tap Trip Experience
Two Tap Trip Experience

It sounds as easy as it is. After scanning their vehicle of choice, users only have to tap their screens twice more: once to start their ride, and once to end their journey. We call that the “two-tap trip” experience.  

This deceptively simple update is helpful to riders for obvious reasons. Not only does it match the riding experience provided by native apps, but it also opens access to multiple providers’ services. 

It has an added bonus for micromobility service providers as well. Trafi’s universal scanner lets them expand and deploy new additions to their fleets quickly and easily – no need for complicated unlocking mechanisms.

Find & Compare
Find & Compare

Discover and compare

One of the benefits of MaaS networks is the wide variety of mobility options they make available to users. More options let users weigh the benefits and compare the mobility modes available to them before deciding which one suits them best.

We take the desire to compare options into account at Trafi. Upon opening the homescreen map, all micromobility options in the user’s vicinity are clearly shown. (That also includes new icons that indicate the battery levels of each vehicle.)

When the user taps the “nearby” screen, they’re shown vehicles that have enough battery power to cover the average trip. (That’s roughly 3 kilometers for scooters, and up to 6 kilometers for e-bikes.) An ideal walking path and distance needed to reach that vehicle are immediately pre-selected and presented to the user as well. All guesswork is eliminated for ease of convenience. 

By introducing universal scanners and improving discoverability in our apps, users gain back valuable time and the usability and flexibility of the app increases in the process. At Trafi, we strive to improve and develop our tech with these parameters in mind. It’s our goal to make MaaS so easy to use, it becomes the first choice of every urban mobility user of the future.

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Urban Mobility in Post-Covid-19 World

Urban Mobility in the Post-COVID-19 World

Co-written by Trafi & Porsche Consulting

As public life starts to move into the post-COVID-19 phase, the question remains how urban mobility will adapt to this “new normal.” From today’s perspective on the weeks and months behind us, the trajectory for the future becomes clearer.

The urban mobility ecosystem adapted quickly and flexibly to changing customer demands. This ability to match the overall supply of mobility modes with individual preferences on the demand side will be a key success factor for cities from now on. The modal split will look different in a post-COVID-19 world and will be even more fast-moving.

In this paper, we use the example of Berlin to compare the direct implications of the pandemic on urban mobility behavior, especially the relative use of different modes of transportation before and during the lockdown phase). Moreover, we will analyze the indirect consequences of a changed mobility behavior such as changes in air quality and in the parking situation. We present four different scenarios analyzing in which direction future mobility might shift.

Our findings are backed by data from the public transportation provider in Berlin (BVG), Mobility as a Service platform provider Trafi, as well as mobility analytics companies MotionTag and Bliq.

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About Trafi

Founded in Vilnius, Lithuania, Trafi has been revolutionizing urban mobility since 2013. Our MaaS platform is designed to run even the most complex transport systems and has been trusted by Berlin (BVG), Brussels (STIB), Portsmouth & Southampton (Solent Transport), Munich (MVG), and Zurich (SBB). 

Trafi’s mission is to empower cities with state-of-the-art MaaS solution that helps to tackle their mobility challenges and to achieve ambitious sustainability objectives. Our white-label product offers all the features and components needed to launch your own-branded MaaS service. With more than 50 existing deep integrations to mobility service providers and payment facilitators, we help to reduce risk, cost, and time-to-launch for new services.

Intermodal Routes and Why It’s Hard to Find Them

Intermodal trips look like a saving grace in getting people out of their cars. Aurelija Petrauskytė-Latakė — Trafi’s Lead Product Manager for Routing — dispels the complex nature of intermodality and explains why people find it challenging to rely upon it.

Mechanics of Human Mobility Decisions

Imagine that you are having coffee with a friend near Potsdamer Platz in Berlin on a lovely Saturday morning. Your friend gets an idea to visit the Zoo, and you don’t hesitate to agree. Now, if you were Anna, a Berliner through-and-through, you would walk. It’s 46 minutes, a beautiful route, and she enjoys a pleasant stroll while catching up on her podcasts. However, if you were Peter, an ex-pat, you would prefer convenience while being very price sensitive. In other words, you would take a bus. Would getting caught in the rain change anything? Anna most likely would immediately jump into a shared car and go back home. For Peter, however, nothing would change: it’s price over comfort pretty much always, and it’s charming when it rains.

These are typical mobility deliberations we all make every single day. What we are considering — taking a bus, car, or walking — are routes from point A to point B. Every route has an origin, a destination, a mobility mode, a path, and a cost. Anna doesn’t mind the physical cost of walking because she finds standing on a platform or inside a train annoying. Peter, however, is willing to pay for the convenience of public transport above the physical toll of walking. You, however, would likely have a different attitude. We all are different people with distinct preferences in disparate situations.

The takeaway: no route is absolutely right for everyone. Every option we take is a tradeoff against the existing alternatives.

Mechanics of Trip Planners

Say that Anna, Peter, and you are relying on the same trip planner to find your mobility options. Well, then the routing software that powers any trip planner would have to know, accept, and adhere to your differences and return a set of mobility options that would make sense specifically to you and your situation. Honestly, every trip planner faces a challenge to achieve that.

There is a solution, though: every one of us, including Anna, Peter and you, consider wait time, trip price, duration, distance, etc. What makes us all different are the distinct values we assign to shared preferences: Anna is more tolerant of walking, and Peter is more tolerant of public transport. I, for example, maybe am more tolerant of paying for ride-hailing. Keep in mind that these tolerance levels also are sensitive to context: whether it’s raining or if it’s rush hour, whether you’re carrying grocery bags or just running late — we all tend to reconsider our usual choices if the situation changes. Routing software would have to start exactly here: by embedding this shared set of preferences and assigning tolerance levels specific to people, cities, and even context.

In other words, trip planners have to consider our shared preferences and return a list of routes that make sense to our tolerance levels in any given situation.

Intermodal trip

Mechanics of Intermodal Routing

Anna and Peter’s options look like a walk in the park in comparison with intermodal routes, e.g., combining a shared mobility option with a public transport one. Imagine that for that trip to Berlin’s Zoo; you decide to take the intermodal route recommended by your trip planner: a TIER kick scooter with a transfer to U-Bahn №2.

What follows is the actual sequence of actions you would be required to perform in an intermodal trip. First, your find a scooter, walk to the scooter, unlock the scooter, put on a helmet, ride the scooter from Potsdamer Platz to Mendelssohn-Bartholdy-Park station for 5 minutes, confirm that you can lock the scooter, take off the helmet, lock the scooter, enter the station and find the platform, wait 6 minutes, transfer to U-Bahn №2, ride five stops for ten more minutes, and complete your last mile on foot.

That’s 23 minutes and around 5 euros. Slower than car-sharing or even a bus but, probably, more convenient than walking. But for this trip to even be recommended, a trip planner has to perform some severe behind-the-scenes calculations:

1. Evaluate the amount of effort you are willing to invest in this route, i.e., tolerance limit to walking, tolerance limit to driving yourself, tolerance to switch from a self-driven mode to a mode where you are driven, tolerance to wait for a transfer, etc.

2. Evaluate mobility service availability, i.e., inquire all integrated shared and public mobility providers in real-time about their available supply, so that you would be able to unlock a kick scooter to start the trip, and a transfer to U-Bahn at your connection point without the necessity to wait for a long time,

3. Predict upfront, i.e., combining the availability and your tolerance levels, calculate how far into the future this trip can be guaranteed, as the scooter supply changes constantly, they cannot be reserved indefinitely. At the same time, U-Bahn №2 does run on a schedule, but it does get disrupted sometimes, and you still have to make your connection at a specific time.

In other words, a trip planner has to recommend intermodal routes that make sense: provide options that show a tradeoff between price, the effort needed, and time saved. But even then, one person will find paying 5 euros for a 23-minute trip outrageous while another would be less concerned about price. Moreover, people are also less likely to consider taking intermodal routes where they are not guaranteed supply at transfer stations.

So, Is Our Future — Intermodal?

One of the points that tend to get lost in the whole debate about the future of urban mobility is the cognitive complexity of intermodal routes. As we’ve discussed before, people calculate tradeoffs. Risks of not finding a kick scooter, riding on unknown streets amid the car traffic, the possibility of missing your U-Bahn connection — it all adds up to an apparent reason why Anna and Peter will mostly prefer sticking to their regularly scheduled options in the upcoming future.

Nevertheless, for most people, sticking only to scarce public transport or private cars is not an answer either. We must increase the connectivity of the whole urban mobility network. Intermodal trips seem to be a legitimate way to get there. One immediate example is urban park & ride systems that allow commuters to leave their cars and switch to public transport or micro-mobility.

To put a finer point here: intermodal routes are already being suggested. In Berlin, Jelbi — a city-led MaaS platform — recommends taking at least one shared mobility combination with public transport in every tenth route search request. However, guaranteeing intermodality is still very complex: these routes have to deal with far more variables than distinctly public transport or shared mobility ones.

One can only hope that intermodal variability can be handled by an abundance of micro-mobility supply soon. Until then, it’s only natural that for regular people, intermodality is rarely the preferred option.

Keep up with Trafi

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay ahead of the curve on the latest in Mobility-as-a-Service and Trafi – news, blog, white papers, webinars, and podcast delivered straight to your inbox

About Trafi

Founded in Vilnius, Lithuania, Trafi has been revolutionizing urban mobility since 2013. Our MaaS platform is designed to run even the most complex transport systems and has been trusted by Berlin (BVG), Brussels (STIB), Portsmouth & Southampton (Solent Transport), Munich (MVG), and Zurich (SBB). 

Trafi’s mission is to empower cities with state-of-the-art MaaS solution that helps to tackle their mobility challenges and to achieve ambitious sustainability objectives. Our white-label product offers all the features and components needed to launch your own-branded MaaS service. With more than 50 existing deep integrations to mobility service providers and payment facilitators, we help to reduce risk, cost, and time-to-launch for new services.