Women and Mobility as a Service: An exploration of the issues faced by women when using shared mobility and possible responses by providers

Project: Research

Project Details


This White Paper reviews the latest knowledge on the
relationship of women with Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
and several measures that have been reported within
the existing literature to address issues that women can
encounter when using novel transport offerings, including
technological, information-based and design-based
solutions. The White Paper also presents the findings of
research funded by the British Academy and conducted
within the University of Hertfordshire’s Smart Mobility
Unit (SMU). The research draws on interviews with
mobility users, transport providers and local authorities in
Hertfordshire. The interviews with female transport users
in Hertfordshire provided insight into their relationships
with use of private cars, shared cars, public transport
and mobility apps, as well as their perceptions of MaaS.
Additionally, the results of interviews carried out with
both female and male transport users in Hertfordshire
revealed the impact of gender on safety perceptions and
the usage practicality of MaaS transport offerings for
male and female users. Finally, this White Paper presents
evidence from transport providers and local authorities in
order to summarise best practice for the governance of
MaaS. It also looks at MaaS design principles, the quality
assurance of MaaS offers and delivering social value, and
probes to what extent MaaS applications can reassure
users as human service personnel can.
Travel behaviours in the UK have changed over the
last few years, with less travel now taking place for
the purpose of commuting to work and more journeys
being undertaken in order to engage in entertainment
and holidays, as well as to accompany dependants,
a category which disproportionately involves women.
This White Paper notes that women have unequal access
to mobility offerings and have differing transport needs
and transport challenges to those of men, including
factors related to safety concerns, convenience, cost
and comfort. The research findings and literature
evidence shared within this White Paper summarise
the challenges that women encounter when using
transport services and the safety precautions that they
take while using those services and suggests potential
solutions and recommended changes that will be
needed to improve perceptions of safety for female
users of MaaS mobility offers.
The White Paper reviews the existing literature evidence
on this topic and presents primary research findings
in order to recommend solutions aimed at improving
the gender inclusivity of transport offerings, including:
improving infrastructure and app design; increasing
public and stakeholder consultation; building networks
of trust; enabling women and disadvantaged groups
to participate in the design process of mobility
offerings; improving investments in communication and
infrastructure to enhance perceptions of safety and offer
reassurance to users; and improving service delivery
by taking a collaborative approach to how transport
offerings are designed and implemented.
This research is timely and consequential, as although
central and local government authorities are increasingly
implementing sustainable transport offers such as MaaS
and are continuing to invest in improving the quality of
transport means and applications for service users, this
White Paper provides evidence of the challenges women
still encounter when using these services. The paper
highlights the fact that issues such as perceptions of
risk and safety concerns persist and may be negatively
affecting women’s access to transport services,
including MaaS. Therefore, there is a pressing need to
understand the challenges faced by women when using
MaaS transport in order to ensure the following can be
achieved: improvement of current and future transport
offerings that takes these challenges into account;
improved inclusivity of mobility offers; and reduction of
the risk of liability for local authorities, MaaS transport
providers and network partners in case of potential
damages affecting service users, such as those caused
by violence and harassment. It is hoped that sharing
the evidence and research findings presented within
this White Paper will better enable transport providers
and policymakers to address the challenges women
encounter when using MaaS transport offerings and will
make them aware of the recommended solutions they
can use to address these challenges.

Key findings

The implementation of sustainable and resource-efficient
sustainability offerings is desirable, but the issues arising
from their implementation, including the inclusivity of
service provision for women and others within diverse
societies, should be considered and researched. There is
evidence that women can face risks when using shared
mobility and public transport and that their feelings
and perceptions of both types of transport provision,
including MaaS offerings, can be influenced by these
potential risks. While providers invest resources in the
quality and implementation of new transport means
and apps, legacy issues remain, such as facilities being
located in isolated areas, poor service reliability and
connectivity and the condition of the old, neglected
stations that are often found in deprived areas. These
issues are not conducive to reassurance. The findings
prompt the following recommendations:
i Consultation between local authorities, central
government, providers and local communities needs
to be initiated to determine the type of value that
users require from transport provision and the safety
features that are necessary. Police forces should also
be encouraged to participate in these consultations.
ii Policy needs to facilitate the formation and
development of industrial networks, involving large
incumbent actors such as train companies. These
networks should be characterised by positive
relationship atmospheres and trust building and
should be supported by the creation and nurturing
of actor bonds, e.g. relationships between human
participants based on trust and providers’ shared
activities, such as the collaborative management
of data and joint investment in technologies like
smartphone apps.
iii The design processes that lead to the
implementation of mobility offerings need to involve
participation and representation from women, people
of diverse backgrounds and disadvantaged groups.
Investments should also be made by employers to
improve the attractiveness of transport employment
roles for women, and to encourage more women to
apply for and to be hired in positions in the transport
MaaS and other mobility apps should be designed
with the specific needs of women in mind, as well as
the needs of other service users; for example, they
should include safety information and should be able
to suggest safe routes for users, depending on their
v Investments in infrastructure should be planned to
reduce the likelihood that users need to use bus
stops, train stations and shared vehicle docking
spaces that are situated in deserted areas. Since
MaaS involves the use of multiple means of
transport, a collaborative approach is necessary to
ensure that the transitions between different vehicles
and modes are protected and are performed in safe
vi Investments in communications should also be made
to reassure users regarding the level of safety on
transport services by providing detailed and truthful
information about the safety measures that are being
Short titleWomen and Mobility as a Service
Effective start/end date10/06/2421/06/24


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