The EU executive aims to better integrate public transport and rail services to achieve seamless multimodal passenger transport while delivering the Green Deal.
1. Multimodal digital mobility services
Planning and buying tickets for journeys that combine different modes of transport can be cumbersome for travellers in the EU. Typically, they use digital services such as route planners and ticket vendors to compare different options to choose from. To ease the process, the European Commission is currently assessing a public consultation on multimodal digital mobility services, in order to table a new law to address challenges for ticketing platforms.
“It’s something consumers expected but that simply never came, which is booking a ticket to cross borders easy,” Robin Loos, Sustainable Transport Officer at the consumer advocacy organisation BEUC told Euractiv.
If you’re not a rail geek, you will not find the right information, the right schedule, the right prices or simply know what to take or how to combine the train and the bus.Robin Loos, Sustainable Transport Officer at the consumer advocacy organisation BEUC
The Commission wants to implement new actions of the sustainable and smart mobility strategy, which will allow travellers to view a range of travel options to reach their destination, from flights to bus journeys to cross-border rail. In addition to price and duration, passengers will have the opportunity to see the carbon footprint of each mode, thus having the chance to opt for the most sustainable choice.
However, not everyone is pleased with the Commission’s attempt to regulate. Railway companies and independent ticketing platforms are clashing over the provision of data, which is a key element of the negotiations. It is expected that a batch of data will be provided from travel companies to third-party platforms. This data will cover everything from departure times to dynamic pricing. The representative of the CER, the major European rail trade association, said the industry supports measures to improve international ticketing, but not “at the expense of the transport operators”.
“Railway undertakings operate on small margins with high fixed costs, so any regulatory intervention that decreases those margins will potentially result in diminishing services, with a negative impact on passengers,” said Alberto Mazzola.
Mazzola also rejects the suggestion that rail companies should pay higher commission rates for sales made through third-party platforms, saying that profits should mirror the risks taken. On the other hand, EU Travel Tech, a trade association representing booking platforms including Skyscanner and Booking.com, welcomes the upcoming EU travel law, saying, if implemented correctly, it will revolutionise travel ticketing.
Today, searching for, comparing, combining, and booking tickets of different transport modes is highly inconvenient and time-consuming, especially across EU borders.Emmanuel Mounier, EU Travel Tech’s secretary general, told Euractiv
In response to CER’s complaints about travel platforms shouldering little of the risks and responsibilities that train companies carry, Mounier said that third party booking vendors should only be compensated for the new sales they bring. “Revenue is shared where rail platforms bring customers to the railways and provide added value,” said Mounier.