Samocat – a last mile transport pilot

Last Mile

Figure 1. The last mile problem[1].

Samocat Sharing Ltd. is an international start-up with Russian roots. The company developed a kick scooter sharing system aimed to solve the first/last mile problem for urban areas (Figure 17). There are first/last mile transport solutions, such as bikes, cars and taxi sharing. Due to the fact that these solutions are fairly popular, an adequate amount of research has been done in the MaaS sphere considering their feasibility, user experience and overall infrastructural challenges they bring. However, considering the last mile problem context, the research is fairly limited. The recent introduction of city-bikes in Helsinki area is a positive step but these bicycles are not highly mobile when it comes to going through subways, metro stations, shopping malls or university campuses, and they require dedicated parking spaces. The introduction of kick scooters as daily transport could help this problem greatly with its docking station, free parking and station’s ability to be even hanged on the wall in tight spaces. The preparation for the service execution being minimal as the infrastructure required for such service is fulfilled by normal bicycle and pedestrian lanes itself.

The system consists of the hardware part (kick scooters and station assembly) as well as a mobile app platform for the payment, system interaction and fleet management. Considering the potential of this service in the context of MaaS, which offers consumers access to a range of vehicle types and journey experiences, the kick scooter sharing system is an ideal candidate for MaaS ecosystem as the last mile transport solution.

The master thesis of Anant Shiv[1] focuses on understanding stakeholders’ collaboration, the required business model and user behaviour and experiences for a new first/last mile transport service by analysing a three-month kick scooter sharing pilot. It was done in collaboration with the city of Espoo (https://www.espoo.fi/en-US), Business Finland (https://www.businessfinland.fi/), ACRE (Aalto University Campus and Real Estate, https://aaltocre.fi/en/), and Student Union of Aalto University (AYY, https://ayy.fi/en). The pilot project was carried out in Aalto University Otaniemi campus. The data was collected with the help of user surveys, interviews, trip data and background documents.

The three-month pilot attracted 217 users with 969 rides completed, six stations at major locations serving 40 kick scooters 24/7. The overall adaptation of the service was fairly natural among local residents consisting of students, university staff, visitors and nearby high-school students. Most used stations were those near two main bus stations showing the synergistic effect, which such service can bring with other modes of transport.

The research findings confirm that Samocat sharing contains all the elements that are needed in order to be an ideal mobility service provider and becoming an integral part of MaaS ecosystem, though there are certain hurdles that need to be overcome. First and foremost is the user experience. Overall, users were positive about the user interface including physical layout and riding experience. The mobile application was a field where Samocat needed to work hard as the service is one of its own kind and due to the difference in operating mechanism, it may meet certain ability barriers for motivated users. The second topic is the business model. The current business model was solely designed keeping the pilot in mind, but for a sustainable business, the pricing model needs to be redesigned. The most important point here is to collaborate with sponsors and MaaS providers to bring financial means as well as users who would fulfil it partially. Having a flexible pricing model that suits most of the user needs is vital keeping offers and exclusive deals as sales catalysts. The third factor is marketing. When starting, Samocat went with the strategy “install and forget” where users come to know about the service when they see it. For a fitting launch of the service, it is vital that Samocat create an attractive marketing plan to involve as many users as possible and highlight the pricing model and subscription benefits transparently.

Next: Evaluation of MaaS value propositions

 


[1] Anant Shiv (2018) Analysis of last mile transport pilot: Implementation of the model and its adaptation among local citizens. Master’s thesis in the International Design Business Management master’s programme in Aalto University. http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:aalto-201804032022

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