Evelien Marlier studied sociology and communication management and then like so many others stayed in the beautiful city of Ghent. She first worked at TreinTramBus, where she coordinated campaigns aimed at promoting a sustainable transport mix . She elaborated different peer-to-peer projects with youngsters, students, elderly and physically disabled. It was here that she learned about the specific mobility needs and wishes of these groups. For the past two years Evelien has been working for EPF, the European Passengers’ Federation, the umbrella organisation of European passenger associations. In her role for this organisation she is involved in TMaaS.
What is your role within TMaaS?
Evelien Marlier: “when you are developing a new service like TMaaS, it is really important to know the different stakeholder groups and to define their needs. That is why I interviewed representatives of (local) companies, cooperatives, freelancers, courier services and catering operators who receive a lot of visitors from outside Ghent and for whom mobility is very important. I also talked to help services, elderly and visually impaired people, who of course have very specific requirements. It is my job to map the expectations and demands of these different groups and make sure they are involved during the different stages of the project.
“Besides that, I also help MintLab with their consumer research: Together we look into what residents of Ghent and its visitors need from this virtual traffic platform. Once the platform is developed, we will help to spread the word. EPF has a lot of contacts with civil society organisations, policy makers and mobility experts and that comes in handy for this.”
I try to ensure that the interests of the different target groups are taken into account. Not everyone is technologically savvy, so you have to be sure that these people are not left behind.
You defend the rights of the man in the street therefore?
Evelien Marlier: “In a way, yes. We work with a number of major players, but I try to ensure that the interests of certain target groups do not go unnoticed. Not everyone is technologically savvy, so you have to be sure that these people are not left behind. It is a bit like looking for the biggest common denominator; you have to take as many people into account as possible. It must remain accessible to everyone.”
Do you find it interesting working as part of the TMaaS team?
Evelien Marlier: “Without a shadow of doubt. TMaaS is a project that is now already on the radar of a great number of different organisations, towns and companies. Being one of the partners of TMaaS puts EPF in a privileged position. Personally I think it is yet another interesting learning ground. I can learn how to deal with and take account of all the different parties involved and affected.”
What, in your opinion, needs to be achieved in order to ensure the success of the project?
Evelien Marlier: “I hope that after three years we will, together with all the partners, succeed in creating real added value for the citizens and developing a good multi-modal tool. I am convinced that it will be very important for the city of the future to have its own traffic management system under its own control. For example, some of the existing apps direct vehicles through residential areas if there is a traffic jam somewhere. The intention of TMaaS is to control the system from inside the towns and to avoid situations like that. This system would suggest taking a different form of transport instead of sending people with their cars through residential areas. The interactive aspect is also essential for me. People will receive notifications if something goes wrong on their route, but they will also be able to send a message back and give feedback to the system! They can report a traffic jam, a delay or even notify the system that they have had an accident and urgently need a bicycle repairer. This kind of practical interactivity can, in my opinion, create a real community! ”
How do you get to work?
Evelien Marlier: “By bike.”