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

Dr. Maurizio Catulli, Alex Buckland-Stubbs

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherUniversity of Hertfordshire
Commissioning bodyThe British Academy
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2024


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