Application Mobility as a Service in China and Singapore

Technology is not only a tool to make people's work easier but has become a necessity in people's lives.

The rapid development of technology means that every individual must adapt. Technology is not only a tool to make people’s work easier but has become a necessity in people’s lives. This technological development cannot be separated from the rapid flow of digital transformation carried out by various countries. Every country is currently trying to adapt to developments in digital transformation to support the running of the government, especially in the field of public services.

If you look at digital transformation trends, countries generally digitize the public service sector to make things easier for their citizens. One of the sectors affected by the flow of digital transformation is transportation. The development of the public transportation sector is one of the focuses of countries in the world. Apart from having a direct impact on domestic society, developing the public transportation sector can also be one way for the country to promote tourism. The ease of getting access to public transportation in a country can be an opportunity to attract many tourists to visit that country

This article will look at the accessibility of public transportation in China and Singapore. China was chosen as a representative of a country in the East Asian region that has long developed advanced technology in its country. In fact, on several issues, this country is the main actor in developing technology used by countries in the world. The selection of Singapore cannot be separated from the representation of a Southeast Asian country that has developed advanced technology domestically. If you look at the score achievement digital development compass, digital public service in China achieved a score of 4.57 and is currently at stage 4 differentiating (UNDP). Meanwhile, Singapore achieved a score of 5.84 and is currently at stage 5 transformational (UNDP).

Mobility As a Service

Draft Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is an innovative concept in the transportation sector that combines various modes of transportation on one platform. The International Association for Public Transport Authorities defines MaaS as an integration pattern for several modes of transportation such as public transportation,ride-sharing, car-sharing, taxis, and other public transportation into one digital platform. It is hoped that the presence of the MaaS concept can be a solution for society to support their daily mobility. In other words, the MaaS concept offers efficiency for all users. With the presence of this concept, it is easier for people to offer travel planning, booking, and payment integrated into one digital platform (Mitropoulos et al. 2023).

To see the extent of the implementation of Mobility as a Service in a country, three important components in its implementation can be identified. These three components contribute to the community’s experience of using integrated transportation. First, services in MaaS which refer to the ease of choosing various travel routes, transportation, and payments available on people’s devices. Second, a mobility solution refers to the breadth of transportation options available for each trip so that people can comfortably choose the transportation they want. The three integration components refer to the combination of travel route options, transportation, and payment without moving to another platform (Mapbox).

Mobility as a service (MaaS) has a characteristic level that can be seen from how big its impact is on community accessibility. Level 0 has no transportation integration to support community mobility. Level 1 information integration which provides information for travel. At this level, people do not need to subscribe if they want to access information on a particular platform. Level 2 booking and payment integration. This level provides booking and payment services in one application but is limited to one trip. Level 3 service and platform integration. This level provides a broader service package. Then finally level 4 societal integration, incentive integration, and policy integration. This level is a manifestation of the commitment achieved by society and the government to reduce private vehicle ownership (Sochor et al. 2018)

Integration in the Transportation sector in China

In its development, integration in public transportation in China has become a government priority since the 2000s. Talking integration in the specific transportation sector such as the MaaS concept, this concept was used by the Chinese government as a national policy in 2018 known as one stop’ mobility services. In 2019, the Chinese government specifically mentioned MaaS or ‘Chuxing ji Fuwu’. China in 2007 focused on integrated transportation services and shaping policies and long-term development planning of a comprehensive transportation network (Chen and Acheampong 2023). The Chinese government’s seriousness in building integration of transportation services starts with building infrastructure for buses, trains, and metro lines. Apart from building infrastructure, government policies and strategies pay attention to transfer hub facilities between different modes of transportation to provide convenience for people in their daily mobility.

The Chinese government is not directly transforming its public transportation sector for entire cities. Several regions in China such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, Yangtze River Delta, and Pearl River Delta were chosen to be national Public Transport Demonstrations or comprehensive transportation service demonstrations (Chen and Acheampong 2023). This area was then given special funding to make improvements to the public transportation system and specifically the funds were given to build integrated transportation hubs. The appointment of several cities to develop public transportation is a decision of the central government taking into account the transportation and economic conditions of the cities.

When talking about MaaS, of course, you will look at how easy the accessibility of digital platforms that exist in China is. MaaS platforms in China can be identified into three platform models. Firstly, the bespoke platform is a platform developed specifically for the integration of transportation services such as the Tianfu Tong, Shengjing Tong, and Handan Transport applications. The development of this application cannot be separated from the initial concept of MaaS, namely to make it easier for users to find modes of transportation. Both MaaS platforms are incorporated into social media applications. Zhengzhou, Xiamen, and Guangzhou are three cities that incorporate the WeChat social media application to search for mobility services. The three MaaS platforms are combined into the navigation application. Use of Gaode Map (Amap) and Baidu Map. This platform model is used in Beijing (Chen and Acheampong 2023).

Looking at the current development of MaaS in China shows us how serious the government is in developing accessibility to public transportation. The Chinese government, through state enterprises, is trying to facilitate access to transportation, starting from the use of trains, ferries, and buses. Private companies contribute to developing non-public transportation such as ride-hailing and bike-sharing.

Mobility as a service in Singapore

Singapore is a small country located in Southeast Asia. The total population of Singapore is 4 million people and live in this country. With a dense population and limited country area, the Singapore government strives to provide effective public transportation services for its people. The Land Transport Authority is an authority under the Ministry of Transport that carries out development for planning and management of transportation systems. This authority has a vision of a“world-class land transport system” by providing quality, transportation integration, and efficiency in transportation system services (Ibrahim 2003).

The main public transportation used by Singaporeans is generally buses, Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), and taxi services. To obtain information about this mode of transportation, the government goes through the Land Transport Authority and forms a software application that can be accessed via a device called MyTransport. This application provides information about bus schedules, travel using the MRT and LRT, taxi ordering services, and information services about traffic. For payment services for modes of transportation, the Government provides smart card services such as EZ-Link which can be used for various modes of transportation in Singapore. Apart from using smart cards, The Land Transport Authority has innovated by providing electronic payment services through the SimplyGo application. Through this application, the public will get information about the nearest stations for trains and MRT as well as bus routes ((SimplyGo).

Apart from applications developed by the government, there are applications developed by the startup company MobilityX. This company developed Zipster as“Asia’s First in-one transport app” which provides services for travel planning, providing information on transportation modes and options for ride-hailing. The collaboration carried out by MobilityX can be said to be quite massive because it has the support of Grab, Gojek, BlueSG, and Toyota. Initiative MobilityX is a manifestation of the MaaS transportation integration concept in Singapore. However, Zipster’s journey in Singapore had to stop because several investors no longer provided access to financing to MobilityX. The disappearance of Zipster from Singapore’s public transportation service sector cannot be separated from the differences in transportation habits in that country. The public was accustomed to transportation integration services developed by the government long before the MaaS concept emerged (Hammond 2023).

What can be learned from the development of the public transport sector in both countries?

Public transportation in both countries is an important thing that other countries must pay attention to. The MaaS integration system is a form of efficiency that can facilitate people’s mobility. However, in some countries, this concept cannot run smoothly. Several aspects that can be considered are the community’s culture towards the use of public transportation. In several countries, transportation integration has been well developed by using smart cards for several modes of transportation. People’s comfort in using the old transportation integration concept makes the existence of the digitization concept in MaaS irrelevant in several countries. The government as a policy maker can also conduct in-depth studies with the private sector to create collaboration for the progress of the public transportation sector in their respective countries.

Triokta Pela
Triokta Pela
Master of International Relations student with an interest in digital transformation and competitiveness studies at gadjah mada University, indonesia. My research focuses include digital transformation, cybersecurity, global technology competition and regional digital policy.