Public transport meets smart mobility: Roles and relationships shaping driverless shuttles and MaaS

Kelsey Oldbury, KTH Publication, January 2021

This licentiate thesis investigates the development of two aspects of smart mobility, driverless shuttles and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in relation to public transport. Smart mobility has emerged as a term to describe and label a group of changes unfolding in the transport sector, such as the role out of automated vehicles, electrification, the spread of platforms and new types of shared services,as well as new concepts to integrate multiple forms of mobility, often referred to as Mobility as a Service (or MaaS). The aim of this thesis is to provide insights into the governance of smart mobility, and more specifically the ways in which public transport governance and planning is shaped or reshaped by these processes. I explore how pilot projects for MaaS and driverless shuttles are being implemented in a specific case in Barkarbystaden, in Järfälla municipality in the greater Stockholm region. Barkarbystaden is a site of large scale infrastructural and urban development. This broader development has influenced the emergence of a collaboration between the local municipality of Järfälla, Stockholm’s regional public transport authority (RPTA), and the private bus operator Nobina Sweden. The collaboration is based on developing public transport in tandem with new technologies and services. As part of this collaboration two pilot projects were launched, one for driverless shuttles as part of public transport, and one for MaaS. In this thesis I draw on the concept of the governance assemblage to explore the formation of the collaboration, and translation to discuss the framing and introduction of both driverless shuttles and MaaS. I specifically ask which roles, responsibilities, and links between the organisations involved and smart mobility shape and characterise the collaboration, as well as how relations take shape around MaaS and driverless shuttles. This case shows how the backdrop of urban and infrastructure development in Barkarbystaden plays a key role in shaping these developments and highlights the influence of existing roles and relationships within public transport planning. In this study the introduction of smart mobility is characterised by the relationship between the operator and RPTA. The way in which smart mobility takes shape with a clear link to the existing role and responsibilities of the bus operator suggests  the role of the private operator takes on a new meaning within public transport in relation to smart mobility. The aspects of smart mobility piloted in this case also have different implications and connections to public transport governance and planning. The pilot for driverless shuttles creates connections to established formal documents, roles and existing processes for public transport provision while MaaS re-orders roles between the RPTA and the operator in this case. This re-ordering of roles is part of the framing of the MaaS concept, and this case illustrates how this emerges in a specific context and the ways in which different actors relate to the concept, influencing how MaaS materializes in this setting. Altogether, this case highlights how different forms of smart mobility have different implications for public transport planning and governance and illustrates how the role of the operator gains new significance at the intersection of smart mobility and public transport.


The research has been part of three K2 research projects:

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