It’s time for Dublin to ride the wave of mobility as a service

5 Mar 2021

Image: Dott

A transport revolution is gaining momentum across Europe. Now is the time for Irish cities to get on board, writes Dott’s Duncan Robertson.

Minister Eamon Ryan’s recent announcement that he intends to legislate for the use of e-scooters and e-bikes will pave the way for sharing schemes to be rolled out across Dublin and other Irish cities. It’s a welcome development for anyone who wants a safe, cost-effective and eco-friendly way of getting around. It’s also a valuable opportunity for city authorities to put the right technology in place now to lay the foundations for fully integrated transport systems of the future.

Micromobility is a buzzword for quick, easy and green ways of getting around. E-scooters are emission-free at the point of use, cost-effective and convenient. Dott already operates e-scooter and e-bike sharing schemes in 16 European cities, including Paris, Brussels and Rome, and we are hoping to enter the Irish market later this year. Our experience across Europe has taught us that you need to get two key things right: safety and technology.

Dott has already written to Ryan urging him to include the highest safety standards in the new legislation. That includes things like an upper speed limit of 25kph, a minimum age of 16 and a ban on using e-scooters on footpaths. We’ve also advocated for dedicated parking zones, to ensure street clutter doesn’t become an issue here as it did in some other European cities.

‘Now is the time to embrace micromobility and make Dublin a greener, more liveable city’

While getting these safety measures in place is essential if we want a smooth roll-out that everyone can get behind, getting the tech right is just as important. There is an opportunity to put the building blocks in place for a fully integrated transport system – including public and private operators – if we embed the right technology now.

Those responsible for making Dublin a more liveable city are already alive to these possibilities. Smart Dublin, an initiative of the four Dublin local authorities, brings together technology providers, academia and citizens to explore how we make Dublin a smart city for the benefit of its people. This includes everything from smart bins that send a signal when they need to be emptied, to creating a transport system that is linked through the best technology. This gives consumers more choice and allows city authorities to monitor travel flows and reduce congestion and travel time.

At Dott, we’ve urged Smart Dublin to ensure that any provider of e-scooter or e-bike sharing schemes that wants to enter the Irish market is compelled to use existing data-sharing standards (such as GBFS v2.0), so transport providers can integrate their systems for the benefit of citizens. This would be the first big step for Dublin to, in time, develop a fully integrated mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) system giving ultimate choice and flexibility to commuters, and helping to cut down on car use and reduce congestion across the city.

The idea behind MaaS is that travellers can plan, book and pay for a variety of transport options through one platform, usually a single app on your phone. All transport options – whether it is the bus you take into town, the scooter you hire to travel from Grafton Street to Henry Street, or the taxi you take home – are accessible via one app. And because they are all using the same integrated technology, your experience is seamless. You won’t need a Leap card for one, cash for another and a subscription for a third. Your journey will be simple, making it much more attractive to leave the car at home.

The National Transport Authority has indicated it believes MaaS should be progressed as a national initiative, meaning we could see much more integrated transport systems in cities across Ireland in the coming years. Companies such as Dott endorse this approach but can also face barriers when trying to enter a new market, due to the individually tailored technology solutions for each city or region. But, if the entire transport sector is working towards common standards for deeper integration, it will be easier to improve travel options for everyone.

By setting out mandatory technological requirements for anyone offering micromobility solutions in Ireland, local and national decision-makers can make the move to a fully integrated transport system in the future much smoother.

The Covid-19 pandemic has already forced a massive shift in how we live and work. To their great credit, local authorities across Dublin have used the lull in city activity to invest in infrastructure like cycle lanes and safe school zones. Now is the time, as the city starts to move again, to embrace micromobility and make Dublin a greener, more efficient and more liveable city.

This isn’t about building new transportation systems. It’s about facilitating a more dynamic and inclusive version of the existing one. MaaS has been adopted successfully in Helsinki, and trials are being rolled out in other European cities including Paris, Eindhoven, Vienna and Hanover. Could Dublin be next?

By Duncan Robertson

Duncan Robertson is general manager for Ireland and the UK at Dott, a micromobility company that currently operates more than 30,000 e-scooters in 16 European cities.