This month on the ‘Women In Shared Mobility’ series, our CEO Sandra Phillips interviewed Rita Landauer, COO of Fluidtime.
As Chief Operating Officer, Rita Landauer is responsible for all operative and commercial business concerns. Apart from being in charge of the different project teams and the projects themselves, a major focus of her duties is the internal implementation of the business strategy. She is also responsible for organisational and procedural optimisation, financial agendas and HR. Rita Landauer has long experience in management as well as profound knowledge in organisational development, change management processes and project and process management. She studied international business management at the University of Vienna.
Women in Shared Mobility: THE future of MOBILITY-AS-A-SERVICE AND EQUITABLE MOBILITY
Rita Landauer, COO OF FLUIDTIME
Sandra Phillips, chief executive officer, movmi
Before we begin, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
First of all Sandra, I want to thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to have this interview today. My name is Rita Landauer and I’m COO of Fluidtime, which is a company located in Vienna, Austria and specializes in integrated mobility solutions. We offer products for platform technology as well as an extensive commercial back office solution and front-end clients as well. Due to our very modular architecture we are able to offer various services to different use cases and normally we offer them as software as a service. Our customers are, for example, public authorities as well as transport operators, but also real estate companies, for example.
1. WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS CAUSED THE SHIFT AWAY FROM PRIVATE OPERATORS TRYING TO OFFER MOBILITY-AS-A-SERVICE TO PUBLIC OPERATORS?
I think until today it was very usual that only companies engage in this business if they have some commercial needs. They have to adapt their actual business model because times are changing and the market has changed. In 2019 there was a very strong focus on climate change and finally more and more cities and regions around the globe started to take action and to contribute to sustainable mobility solutions.
I think then that it’s a logical step that public transport operators will get into this field of Mobility-as-a-Service because the only chance we have to get people out of their cars, is if the automation consists of public transport as the backbone of mobility plus the marketable transportation options that Mobility-as-a-Service solutions can offer.
2. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS NEEDED FOR THE TECHNOLOGY TO INCREASE ITS USER BASE?
I think what we all know is that people are habit driven and what it needs is a change in our mobility culture. People used to take their car to take their friends for shopping not because it’s the easiest way or the cheapest way but because they are simply used to it.
In the past the car has been status symbol for a long time, for generations, and if you could afford a car then you had a car and used it. We have to try to speed up this change in our mobility culture and get people to think about each trip separately, not to just use the same mode of transport every day but dependant on actual traffic situations, weather conditions, availability of our offers, to decide for each individual trip, which mode of transport would be the best. I think another topic is a move to the shared economy and there are so many services but people have to be open to these kind of services – to shared offers – in order to be able to use all these opportunities.
3. WE SEEM TO HAVE HIT A CEILING AT 1% OF ALL TRIPS BEING MAAS RELATED. HOW DO WE GET PAST THIS? HOW DO WE MAKE IT MORE ATTRACTIVE?
I think that there is a lot of information and trust-building needed so that people can learn about operators so they can be convinced that they can trust them. We need incentives. I think monetary and non-monetary incentives. The non-monetary incentives are somehow available anyway because it’s a good feeling to contribute to Environment Protection but I think we will also need monetary incentives. With these kind of things, I believe that we need the help of companies because they have the possibility, for example, to offer to their employees some kind of mobility credit to get them to test those kind of services and they can also offer incentives for people that are used to having a company car. If they switch to mobility credits, for example, then they can get used to the various, different kinds of transportation modes available. Maybe someday they will leave their car behind.
I think we have to have a first step and to get people familiar with these opportunities. As soon as they learn about them I’m convinced that a lot more people would use them. For example we have another interesting project in Vienna, where we are working with a real estate company and they will offer a mobility credit model, where people, if they do their shopping within partner stores, receive credits and then can use those for sharing offers within their residential area. That’s another way to try to get people to test these services and at the same time we do something for the local companies as well.
5. DO YOU THINK THERE IS SOMETHING THAT CITIES PERHAPS COULD DO TO HELP WITH ADOPTION?
I think that’s always difficult as long as there not enough alternatives and therefore I think what cities should do is they have to make sure that the marketplace for transportation operators and mobility service providers is very attractive so that a lot of offers will be available. At the same time they have to regulate the operators, because what we see today is that there are many offers within the centers of cities but at the outskirts, where the offer of public transport is not as good as it is in the center and car trips are needed most – there are nearly no offers. I think that they will have to regulate those operators to make sure that everyone who wants to leave his car behind really has a chance to do it without losing too much comfort.
6. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST DEVELOPMENTS YOU THINK THAT WILL ENSURE THAT WE’RE MOVING TOWARDS MORE MOBILITY EQUITY?
I think as mentioned before it needs to not only be offered in the center of the city but the offer also still has to become more flexible. You talked about families before and if you have to do multiple stops and want to leave your luggage in the car, it’s always difficult with shared offers. For example, for me, if I have to get a flight early in the morning, I won’t rely on the shared service, because I want to make my reservation in the evening and be sure that in the morning there will be a high availability. Another topic that I often see is the people that don’t need the car during the week to get to work, they still keep the car because maybe twice a week they want to go outside the city to visit friends or family and for these trips they need a car. I think there’s still a lot to do regarding the offers themselves. There will be a lot of investment needed and this investment can not be handled by the companies alone. I think that cities will have to contribute to this, otherwise it won’t happen because it doesn’t pay off for sharing companies.
7. WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO TO INCLUDE OTHER USER GROUPS? HOW DO WE GET OLDER GENERATIONS TO BUY INTO IT?
I think the access to sharing offers is via an app, so a very customer friendly app is needed – so that even elderly people can easily navigate through the app so they get a clearer picture of opportunities that are offered, that they can find information about prices and conditions. I think it’s also a topic of payment options. Especially for the elderly and also for children, they do not have access or are just not willing to give their credit card details or bank accounts for an online payment. There are possibilities to offer some kind of family account so that they don’t have to do the payment themselves and of course there is also the possibility to buy credits offline. I’m not convinced that this will be enough, as you mentioned, elderly people are so used to their habits that it’s especially difficult to change.
8. WHAT IF WE INCLUDE SOME KIND OF TRIP CONCIERGE? IS THIS SOMETHING THAT WOULD MAYBE AT LEAST SOLVE THE HURDLE OF THE TECHNOLOGY FEAR?
Now I think this could be good because I think what we need to do is to find some way to get people to get in contact with those services and after they try it once, I think the greatest barrier is away. Something, I think about is combining mobility services with other services. For example, when you shop use the shared offer in your development. We already have this in in some homes here that you have your own station within where you live. So that you just take every chance you have to get people in touch with these new offers and maybe then we can handle the challenge that we have to get more people convinced to try them.
9. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL OUR VIEWERS?
I think we discussed a lot of interesting topics today and I think it will be very interesting to see what happens within the next five years because the revolution that happened in 2019 was a very important change for our environment I think and I really hope that now it will be more easy to realize a shift in our mobility.
What are your thoughts on the future of shared mobility and what developments are to be expected in 2020? What about the future implementation of shared mobility within rural areas? If you would like to be interviewed or to nominate a woman working in Shared Mobility for our next series, get in touch with us here.