MOIA’s ride pooling service promises comfortable transport for everyone. It also claims to look after the roads, the environment and your wallet. But how good is the brand-new service already?
“You will be picked up at 10:18” flashes on my cell phone display. In four minutes – that’s a relief because it’s cold this morning; I can see my breath. The weather app shows that it’s just 2 degrees Celsius.
I’m standing in front of the Market Church in Hanover city center. Today I’m trying out the service of the new mobility provider MOIA. Founded in December 2016, MOIA is the youngest company in the Volkswagen family.
MOIA aims to roll out a service that Germany has never seen before in this caliber – ride pooling. In this, users traveling similar routes share a car at the same time. It is a service for everyone, because passengers don’t need a driver’s license. Having professional drivers at the wheel promises a higher level of safety.
MOIA’s vision is conserving resources by sharing cars. Ride pooling could reduce road congestion and also help solve the annoying problem of finding a parking space. Sharing a ride instead of driving alone also reduces emissions.
Feedback from testers
Since the beginning of November, MOIA has been testing the service in the capital of Lower Saxony with selected users. So how good is the app already? In which areas do the algorithms that calculate the routes need to be improved? And how pleasant do users find the trip? Feedback from testers will make the service even better prior to its official launch in Hamburg in 2018.
I, too, am to test the service – after all, MOIA has only been around for a year. Will the brand-new service always manage to take me to my destination in time? Can such a young company already be so good?
Logging on to the app is a piece of cake. In two steps I’m registered and ready to go. I enter my destination – Galerie Herrenhausen, one of Germany’s most magnificent English gardens. Then I enter the pickup location again and click ‘book’. After just three taps, the message appears on the display: “Go to the pickup point”. I’ll be picked up in four minutes, the app tells me.
The “pickup point”, my virtual stop, is only about 20 meters ahead – pretty straightforward. The MOIA app takes me there. The furthest you’ll ever have to walk is 250 meters. The reasoning behind these digital stops is that a few meters’ walk can sometimes save the drivers a lot of time, for example if they don’t need to make a protracted detour through one-way streets or turn, if the destination is in the other direction in any case.
At 10:18 a.m., just as the app had forecast, a dark blue VW T6 approaches. I have no trouble identifying it due to the memorable MOIA lettering on the side. The driver is polite and greets me by name. The system has already told him where I’m going. That’s handy, as it allows us to set off for Galerie Herrenhausen without delay.
To present the journey as clearly as possible for multiple passengers, a display shows the next stop, as well as the travel time in real time: “12 minutes” is displayed in my case. As no one else gets in, the travel time doesn’t change. Normally, customers must be prepared to be joined by other passengers and make slight detours. This, according to MOIA, will make the service cheaper than taking a taxi.
The shuttle reaches Galerie Herrenhausen and its English Garden in precisely the 12 minutes displayed. Following a short walk at temperatures of just marginally above zero, I am very happy that the next MOIA vehicle is available straight away. I have to wait only five minutes for it.
Next stop: the New City Hall. Again, everything works perfectly. During the trip, I strike up a conversation with the driver. “Working for MOIA is great,” he explains. “I feel much safer than when driving a taxi because I don’t need to carry any cash around with me and I also know who my passengers are.” MOIA eliminates the annoyance of scrabbling around for small change – passengers pay using the app.
The driver lets me out right at the entrance to the City Hall – what a service!
After a brief visit to the interior of the City Hall, I tap three times on my smartphone to call a MOIA for the last leg: lunch in Hanover-Linden. Hardly four minutes go by before I’m picked up. Enough time for a conclusion:
MOIA simply worked – and that’s just in the test phase. In Hanover, the future of transport is now.