Manchester is set to become one of the UK’s first smart transport cities.

Manchester Metropolitan University has launched a partnership to develop TravelSpirit, a pilot scheme for a connected transport system.

The Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas) system will ultimately allow users to travel across several modes of transport via a single booking.

It is intended to automatically arrange transport via ridesharing, car sharing, cycle hire, taxi and public transport.

The system is being built upon open-source code, meaning companies and organisations will have access to developments and be able to build upon them.

This could be of benefit to companies delivering goods and in other logistical areas.

“Manchester will provide an excellent use case for the platform once built and it has the potential to provide a template for improving travel in major cities around the world,” said Keith Miller, head of the department of computing, mathematics and digital technology at Manchester Met.

“TravelSpirit is still in the early stages of development, but it is a novel approach to transport management and will create a technical ecosystem for transport providers and users.

“We’re now imagining how the open-source architecture might work.”

Maas systems are already in place in Germany – via apps Qixxit and Moovel – with tech-focused nation Finland also heavily invested in the idea.

Partnering with the university for the pilot are the Department for Transport, Satellite Applications Catapult, BT, Accenture, Tech North, the Institution of Engineering & Technology and Transport for Greater Manchester.

“As European Capital of Science and with its rich history of innovation, Manchester is a fitting location to launch this initiative,” said TfGM transport strategy director Dave Newton.

“Technology has a fundamental part to play in how transport services and information is provided, not just to people across Greater Manchester but all the towns and cities around the world.”

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