The German transport sector is constantly expanding with innovative mobility services such as sharing services for bicycles, e-trekking scooters, cars and other vehicles. In order to use these services and others, such as shared rides, route planning, public transport tickets and timetable information, every citizen needs his or her own smartphone and a variety of mobility apps. Each of these apps also usually requires personal data and payment information to be stored. Accordingly, some transportation companies and also international platform operators have started attempts to develop universal solutions: a mobility pass.
The idea of a mobility pass is to make it much easier for users to use public and private transport services. Users of a mobility pass should be able to determine their specific travel route throughout Germany via an all-encompassing mobility platform and to compare, select and use mobility offers locally without restrictions. Within an app, all offers in the respective town or region in which a person is located should be able to be viewed and used in bundled form.
What are the arguments in favor and what are the arguments against?
An all-encompassing digital platform like the Mobility Passport can make transportation within Germany more climate-friendly and networked – or so its proponents hope. After all, bus and rail systems as well as shared mobility offerings can work together to provide attractive options for new individual mobility and enable a multimodal route chain without the need for a private car.
The main point of contention is under which leadership a platform such as the Mobility Passport can stand. Contributors from the sectors agree that it would not be expedient for a nationwide application for booking and paying for mobility services to be run by the state, as competition is crucial, especially in the innovative transport sector. At the same time, a nationwide mobility passport cannot belong to a single company for the same reason. This is because data evaluation and the subsequent optimization of the offer represent the core business of many companies in the mobility sector. If one company had access to the converging data of many companies, it would have an immense advantage over its competitors.
The current regulatory status quo and best practice examples from other European countries
A number of regulatory issues also remain unclear. For one thing, there is a lack of clear regulations on the uniform search, booking and payment process for e-ticketing, which makes it difficult for customers, competitors and the government itself to gain a transparent overview of the market. In addition, there is a lack of federal legislation on data protection, data transfer and data exchange. The previous federal government also failed to present a concept for modern mobility services and their contribution to achieving the federal government’s climate protection and sustainability goals by the end of the legislative period.
According to the Greens, Germany is falling behind other European countries such as Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden in the competition for modern digitized mobility services. In these countries, concepts and/or programs are being developed for the establishment and operation of mobility platforms in which data exchange and data availability are at the forefront.
So what can be expected from the new German government?
In the current exploratory paper of the parties SPD (Social Democratic Party), Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Alliance 90/The Greens), FDP (Free Democratic Party) the mobility passport is not taken up. Despite this, the Greens are supporters of the idea and introduction of a “mobility pass”. In the last legislative period, for example, they submitted several motions to promote and advance the development of a “_Mobil_Pass” in the form of a provider-neutral standard for all existing and future mobility apps and listed “Introduce _Mobil_pass” as a separate sub-item in their election program.
Particularly with regard to the climate policy goals of the new federal government the topic of transportation will have to play a major role. It remains to be seen what digital and transport policy goals the coalition agreement will contain.