During the last decade or so, the contribution of motor vehicle emissions to air pollution, human health risks and climate change has become undeniable. Add to that traffic congestion problems and the 1.1 average car-occupancy rate for short distance trips in France and you come to the conclusion that private car ownership is not a sustainable solution for intra-urban mobility.
But all is not doom and gloom. Thanks to the advent of smartphones, the last decade also saw a boom of urban mobility startups who offer more environmentally friendly forms of transport : ride-hailing, home-office carpooling, micromobility and car-sharing. And let’s not forget public transportation systems which usually provide dense networks in urban areas.
But this abundance of alternatives to car ownership and single-occupancy vehicles presents its own challenges for the customers :
- the lack of brand awareness of little known but competitive operators eclipsed by the market leader(s).
- the tedious process to compare competing operators : for most services, we first have to install the app, sign up and enter our payment info before we can even fill in our itinerary details and access the results. We thus have to repeat these steps x times in order to find the transportation service that best suits our needs.
One app to replace them all, one app to book them all
Those are the problems my associates and I want to solve with our solution : Yuwway, a MaaS app. Our goal is to limit the negative externalities of car ownership and promote more sustainable alternatives by providing access to a wide offer of urban mobility operators in one platform. The customers can then compare the available services by price, ETA or carbon footprint and seamlessly plan, book and pay their trips in the same app.
In my experience, the existing French MaaS apps are not entirely satisfactory. Some of them aggregate a few transport services, like Google Maps or Citymapper, but they don’t integrate the payment process and redirect the customers to the operator’s app to finalize their booking. Other apps do integrate the payment process and let the customers choose between several transport modes but they propose only one operator for each, quite often a business partner. That is for instance the case with the Uber app which, along with their ride-hailing service, offer their subsidiary Jump e-scooter and bike services.
A long and bumpy ride
To offer a large and varied choice of mobility services is one of our top priorities. To be honest, getting the operators to partner up with us has proven to be a long and challenging journey. Since we have yet to prove our worth, we first had to gain their trust and this takes time. But it also turned out to be a very rewarding enterprise since it allowed us to build strong relationships with them. To initiate such connections, events like the AUTONOMY exhibitions are invaluable.
We originally planned on beta testing our app during the spring. Unfortunately, like for so many others, our project got delayed by the covid-19 crisis. The urban mobility companies were particularly hit by this crisis and most of their operations came to a standstill during the lockdown.
Mobility dropped by 80% during the first stage of lockdown in France (Source : Kisio, Roland Berger, “Confinement et mobilités”)
Business has picked up since then but not yet at the usual level of activity. However, some markets still remain severely impacted. Those circumstances forced us to put a pin in the development of our app during the lockdown and to postpone its release until the fall.
Rather than twiddle our thumbs during this forced break, we decided to focus on a B2B offer. It was always part of the plan to cater to the companies’ mobility needs but we expected to do it further down the road. This opportunity allowed us to consider and define the specific requirements expected by companies (company account, integration with expense management softwares, management of the sustainable mobility package…) and tailor a solution that will address them. We are currently discussing the implementation of our B2B solution as a first experimentation with a major European company.
What’s next ?
After the success of our crowdfunding campaign, we are launching the beta-tester recruitment for our 1st version of the app on android. Register directly from the website: www.yuwway.com.